KALEVALA – Кукушкины Дети (The Cuckoo’s Children)

KALEVALA – The Cuckoo's Children








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Metal
Label: Metalism Records
Year: 2009

Kalevala is a new Russian band that was founded only in 2007. They have been very active though and they have already released their debut album “Кудель Белоснежного Льна” in 2008 as well as a split live DVD with Manegarm and Alkonost. They soon managed to become well known in the folk metal scene of their country and maybe it’s time for them to gain a larger audience. “Кукушкины Дети – The Cuckoo’s Children” is their second album released by their new label Metalism and it seems to get a better distribution so far.

Many of the band members were also on other Russian bands so most of them are experienced. Their lead singer Kseniya (ex-Butterfly Temple, Nevid) has a very beautiful and characteristic voice and I would say she is the Kalevala trademark. Their music is folk metal with female vocals and many traditional instruments accompanying the guitars, with accordion being the most dominant. Their songs have a very happy mood and a positive energy comes out of their folk melodies. Most of the time their music is up-tempo, but there are also some more slow and melancholic moments that actually sound like ballads. They are far from extreme pagan or black metal that most folk metal bands are related to these days and they are closer to folk rock. Their lyrics deal with mythology and paganism and all songs are in Russian (despite the fact that it is a “difficult” language, I think it fits perfectly with their melodies). “The Cuckoo’s Children” is for sure the best album of the band and one of the best in this genre. The production and sound of the album are close to perfection and they have a very fresh and progressive approach to folk metal. Everything sounds very improved from their debut, especially vocals! The compositions are very innovative with many changes and various influences, skillfully blended into their music.

There are two versions of “The Cuckoo’s Children”: a normal version and a limited digibook version with a bonus song and a bonus video. Both of two versions come with an amazing artwork (different in each version). I totally recommend this album to fans of folk metal/rock. You can visit the links below to listen to their music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
http://kalevala-folk.ru
Kalevala @ Myspace
Kalevala @ VK

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

 

Posted in Reviews

ASKIVAL – Eternity

ASKIVAL – Eternity








Origin: United Kingdom
Genre: Epic Black Metal Folk Acoustic
Label: Darker Than Black Records
Year: 2009

Askival was founded in 2006 by its only member Tuagh and after the demo “Alba” he released the debut and only full-length album “Eternity”. Tuagh comes from the island Rùm of Scotland and the band took its name from the highest mountain of the island. After the release of this album, Tuagh abandoned Askival, so it seems that’s all we will ever get from this band.

The music of Askival is epic pagan metal with some Bathory influences. They use many acoustic guitars and there are big parts in the songs where they actually play acoustic folk / epic ambient music. The compositions are very good, while the use of folk instruments and synths enrich their sound and help Tuagh create a unique pagan atmosphere. There are times when you feel you can almost “smell” the nature… The thematology of the album is about ancient Scotland, paganism and nature and their music is in complete harmony with them. Vocals are also very good and except the black metal parts, there are also epic clean ones, whispering vocals, as well as female vocals with the participation of Runahild from Eliwagar on 2 songs. Whenever electric guitars make their appearance they bring a melancholic, but warm feeling in the songs. The sound is not the best you can find, but it really doesn’t matter at all because the pure honest emotion of their music covers everything else.

It is really a pity that this band split up in 2009, but at least this album lasts for more than an hour, so we can get a complete taste of their music. The album is released by Darker Than Black with a very nice booklet designed by Kogaion Art. So if you like epic pagan metal and acoustic folk music, Askival is a very nice choice. You can also visit their myspace and Facebook pages to listen to their music.

(In the beginning of 2012 Askival announced the band is active again and a new album is in process!)

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
Askival @ Facebook
Askival @ MySpace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

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ASHAENA – Cei Născuţi Din Pământ

ASHAENA – Cei Născuţi Din Pământ








Origin: Romania
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Eastside Records
Year: 2009

Ashaena is a new band from Bârlad of Romania. They begun in 2006 as the personal project of Cosmin Hultanu, but eventually they got a full line-up with 6 members. They describe their music as Moldavian pagan metal and actually that’s what they play: pagan metal with folk and black elements honoring their ancestors’ traditions and culture. They also state they are far away from the NS ideology.

Cei Născuţi Din Pământ” (“The Ones Born from the Soil”) is their debut album and I find it quite interesting. Most of the songs of this album were also released as a demo in 2006. Their music is basically epic heavy metal with a pagan folk mood and an underground sound. They don’t have the best production, but it’s more than ok for the atmosphere of their music. There are 9 songs in the album plus 9 interludes in between them. Some parts of their songs are very good and others need improvement. The song structures are somehow loose and you can find many different music styles in this album: epic metal, pagan black metal, acoustic, folk, ambient… Most of the time their music is from slow to mid tempo, with a few faster and more aggressive outbursts, though never becoming too extreme. They are not afraid to experiment and they are far away from a typical pagan metal band. On the other hand there are many things that need improvement. The most obvious of them is the clean vocals, that very often sound almost out of tune, while the brutal ones are ok. Of course this epic style of singing is based more on the feeling and less on the accuracy, but they still need improvement.

Overall Ashaena make an honest effort showing their respect to their country and their roots. All lyrics deal with themes influenced by the Romanian folklore and are sung in their native language. With some sound improvements and a more balanced songwriting they can do much better things in the future. I see this release more like an official demo than a debut album. You can check them on their Facebook and myspace pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (7,5/10)

Links:
Ashaena @ Facebook
Ashaena @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

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UNHOLY MATRIMONY – Croire, Décroître

UNHOLY MATRIMONY – Croire, Décroître








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Black Metal Melodic Black Metal
Label: Deepsend Records
Year: 2009

Unholy Matrimony is the third personal project of Vladimir Cochet, the man behind Mirrorthrone and Weeping Birth. With this band he explores his black metal side and he has already released 2 albums before the new one. He begun in 2000 and the first album “Love & Death” was out on 2002, followed by “Misologie” next year. Both works presented very melodic, yet melancholic, fast black metal with synths. I liked both albums very much and my only objection was the continuous blast beating and fake sound of the ultra-fast drumming.

Croire, Décroître” comes out 6 years after the last album and many things have changed… Unholy Matrimony sound darker, blacker and heavier than before. The tempo is slowed down and the production is unbelievably solid and powerful! They drums sound perfect and Vladimir’s improvement in them is more than obvious. Synths are now very discreet (maybe totally absent, I am not sure) and guitars do an amazing work generating many different soundscapes through various distortions and styles. At first I found this album less melodic than its predecessors, but the more spins I gave it the more I was dragged into it. The unusual song structures make them sound more complex than most progressive metal bands. But this seemingly random sequence in each composition is resulting in a very solid album, with a unique and very intense personality. Every single note, every single riff has a musical melodic quality that I cannot explain. He doesn’t use easy catchy melodies, but everything sounds so melodic! I am confused…

The lyrics are in French and in my opinion this language fits with the dark desperate atmosphere of the songs. Except for his black metal vocals where he sometimes uses some weird distortion filters, there are also some choirs. Despite the differences compare to his previous albums you can still understand it’s the same band thanks to the very special melodic sound they have. There are 8 tracks in this album, but it sounds like a big continuous song since beginning and ending of each song isn’t that obvious. Anyway the album lasts for 57 minutes and my personal opinion is that it would be better if it was a little shorter, since it demands your full attention and in the end it exhausts you…

Vladimir is a very skilled and gifted musician, able to have three different bands, all with a distinctive sound and to release 3 great albums in one year, one with each band. I totally recommend this album. You will be surprised by this dark progressive black metal opus… It is released by the American label Deepsend Records in a special double-wallet version. In his official pages you can get a taste of all of his albums and also links to his other bands as well.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.unholymatrimony.com
Unholy Matrimony @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ARCKANUM – ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ

ARCKANUM – ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Black Metal
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Year: 2009

Arckanum is a very old Swedish black metal band with its roots back in 1992. It is the personal project of Shamaatae who composes everything, sings and plays all instruments. He was very productive until 1998 and Arckanum became a “cult” name in the underground circles. Their first 3 albums “Fran Marder” 1995, “Kostogher” 1997 and “Kampen” 1998 were soon sold out and they hit prices over 100$ each in ebay! After 1998 and for 10 years the band released only EPs and split albums, but in 2008 they returned with their fourth full-length “Antikosmos” and now they are back for good with “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ”.

The closest term to describe Arckanum’s music is pagan black metal, but since Shamaatae has different beliefs than paganism (he is Chaos-Gnostic Satanist) the term pagan shouldn’t be used. This album is a dedication to the Old Norse giant Þjazi and winter legends of that time. The eleven songs of this album (equal to the 11 underworld rivers) start with the letter Þ and added all together give the album title “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ”. The first noticeable change in this album is the very powerful production and the sharpest sound of the guitars. This is by far the best production the band ever had. Arckanum offer us old school black metal with simple song structures and riffs that stick in your mind. The natural sound of the guitars dominates their music and compositions balance between rhythmic and more melodic parts, all based totally on the guitar riffs. Shamaatae’s characteristic vocals are screaming the lyrics in ancient Swedish language, completing the raw power of this album. The songs move from mid to fast tempo with cold esoteric melodies and a few dark ambient experimental parts.

For me “ÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞÞ” is the best Arckanum album for many years now. I can’t compare it though with the 3 first albums, especially with my favorite “Kampen”, basically due to emotional connection. The album is released in a digipak with a dark charcoal painting (probably depicting Þjazi) and the band logo embossed in the front cover. You can check their Facebook page for samples.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8,5/10)

Links:
Arckanum @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

WODENSTHRONE – Loss

WODENSTHRONE – Loss








Origin: United Kingdom
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Bindrune Recordings
Year: 2009

England isn’t really known for its pagan black metal bands. Maybe it’s time to change this! A brilliant new band arises from there, offering us a mesmerizing debut album “Loss”. They were formed in 2005 and after two split releases in 2006 and 2008 they recorded their first full length album in Negura studios in Romania with the help of Negura Bunget members.

Wodensthrone play pagan black metal with an underground (but very good) sound. They begun as a more raw and primitive band, but eventually they evolved musically in a more melodic band. They use synths and acoustic guitars enriching their sound very much. There are times when they sound more raw and aggressive with rhythmic guitar riffing having the leading role and times when melodic (almost symphonic) keyboards dominate their sound. Of course there are also parts when synths are just in their background making their music more atmospheric. They use mainly brutal vocals full of sorrow and pain that fits so much their melancholic music. You will also find some tranquil instrumental parts, other times acoustic, other times almost ambient, where the band shows a more progressive experimental face. I would also like to comment that these acoustic parts are much better in quality than the majority of neo-folk / acoustic bands out there…

There is variety in their music and many changes inside the songs: there are 8 songs, 4 of them more than 10 minutes and the album is about 70 minutes long! “Loss” deals with dark aspects of British pagan antiquity and the band makes a true emotional confession. It seems to me like they have a “concentrated” experience in this work and it overflows in each music note… There is a dark melancholic folk mood in the songs, not only in the form of traditional instruments, but in the very essence of the music. Despite the rich orchestrations and unlike many bands of the genre, Wodensthrone definitely retain the basic black metal elements in their sound. There are many amazing breathtaking moments in their songs that “travel” the listener to other non-existing dimensions. Just close your eyes and enjoy…

The album is released by the American label Bindrune Recordings to 1000 copies with beautiful artwork made by Kogaion Art. Pagan metal fans shouldn’t miss this album. “Loss” is a real masterpiece as you can clearly listen in the songs on their Facebook or myspace page.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
Wodensthrone @ Facebook
Wodensthrone @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

PRIPEGAL – Ziemia Gromadzi Prochy

PRIPEGAL – Ziemia Gromadzi Prochy








Origin: Poland
Genre: Pagan Black Metal
Label: Eastside Records
Year: 2008

Pripegal is the personal project of Mscislaw, who is also the singer and guitarist of Abusiveness. The band began in 1995 with the ambition to create Slavonic black metal and Bathory being the main influence. Even though the songs were composed earlier, it was 2004 when the debut album “Slavia Antiqua” was out. It was an underground release limited to 300 pieces, offering us average raw pagan black metal.

The new album though is quite different! Mscislaw has paid much more attention to the compositions and a lot of synths are added. Actually I think “Ziemia Gromadzi Prochy” is more a symphonic majestic black metal album, than pagan black. It is a more melodic and technical work, but this kind of music requires much better production. The drums should feel more real and the sound is a bit “drowned”, not having the power it deserves. I guess the budget couldn’t allow something better. Anyway, the reason I review this album is because behind the sound problems there are really great ideas. Amazing and countless epic melodies flow in each song. The excellent use of keyboards and acoustic guitars in combination with the inspired riffs help the band to create an epic majestic black metal album, much better (in music) by the majority of the bands of the genre. They use only brutal vocals, but they are not too raw or extreme in general. Basically it’s a mainstream black metal, but with an underground production. There are some songs that are really excellent and others weaker, but the overall result is much above average.

For me this was a surprising turn in Pripegal’s music that I really welcome. If only the production was better, allowing more people to enjoy their music, things would be much better. Anyway, I hope for sound improvement in the future. The album is released by the Polish label Eastside.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
-

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA – Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA – Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Avant-garde Metal Experimental
Label: Ascendance Records
Year: 2009

Diablo Swing Orchestra (D:S:O) is a very special band from Sweden that was formed in 2003, or according to a “legend” in 1501! This story is revealed in a DVD that comes with the limited version of the album and it is presented as a “real story”. According to the official DVD, there was an orchestra in 1501 in Sweden performing seductive and “divine” music, recruiting many followers and gathering large audience. Their reputation made the mason church accuse them for heresy, Satanism etc. and they “baptized” them the Devil’s Orchestra. They earned more popularity this way, but the hostility of the church was growing continuously. They became fugitives (there were rewards to arrest them) and finally they decided to quit, but not without giving a last unforgettable show! Before this last concert, all members signed a pact that their descendants should reunite the orchestra in 500 years and six envelopes were passed on to family members. The show was a great success with massive sing-along of the crowd and it was talked about for many years. At the end of the concert the 6 members were arrested and sentenced to death by hanging. In 2003 two of the original descendants meet in a music store and after discovering their past they managed to gather all remaining successors and following the instructions they reunited the orchestra!

I don’t know if this is a real story, or an advertising trick, but it’s interesting anyway! Either way the original scores don’t exist (they were destroyed) so the music of the new orchestra is a free interpretation of the old one. D:S:O self-released their debut “The Butcher’s Ballroom” in 2006 gaining very good reviews for their unusual and inspired music and now in the end of 2009 they release their second album “Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious” with Ascendance Records. If you have listened to the first album you will know what to expect. If not, it’s not easy to describe it with words. The band likes to refer to its music as “riot-opera”, but this alone isn’t that helpful. Actually their name fits them perfectly. They really sound like a cursed orchestra that is willing to experiment with every genre of music in order to create a lunatic atmosphere. Opera, classical orchestral music, ballroom music, swing, jazz, rock, hard rock, heavy metal, electronic music, folk music, Russian music, flamenco and many other genres are used in this album (unluckily I don’t have the knowledge to track them all!). The band was influenced by the different music traditions they met on various countries (Russia, Germany, France, Spain and UK) on their tours and they dedicated some songs to these cultures. So there is a great variety on this album by really skilled musicians able to play almost everything in a very tight result.

The production of “Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious” is excellent, one of the most powerful I’ve ever heard. The guitars have a really heavy sound and each riff has amazing “volume” and strength! Guitars are combined with synths, cello, drums, bass, trombone, trumpet, piano, accordion, harmonium, clarinet and choirs in every possible combination. Annlouice’s characteristic female operatic voice has the leading role in vocal lines, where we also find a big variety of male vocals in various styles (operatic, heavy, rock, extreme, etc). The song structures are very complex and innovative and so different from song to song. There are 10 songs in this album and almost 50 minutes of unique music.

It is released in 3 different versions by Ascendance Records: a regular 4-panel digipak, a limited to 2000 pieces 8-panel digipak with a bonus DVD that contains a film with the band’s biography, a video clip and band info and finally a limited to 300 pieces version including the previous CD+DVD, plus a band logo pendant, some posters and stickers. If you are interested in such experimental music and a band with a unique background you better check their music on your own on their official pages, since words are incapable to describe them.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://www.diabloswing.com
Diablo Swing Orchestra @ Facebook
Diablo Swing Orchestra @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews