SVARROGH – Yer Su

SVARROGH – Yer Su








Origin: Bulgaria
Genre: Folk Acoustic
Label: Ahnstern - Steinklang
Year: 2008

Svarrogh is a very complex and unique band formed in 2001 by the talented Bulgarian musician Dimo Dimov, who is also the only member of the band. He now lives in Germany, but his love for Bulgarian nature and traditions is obvious in his creations.

Svarrogh begun as a raw black metal band with some folk influences and released their first full length “Baxas Xebesheth 1883” in 2003. Later in 2004 they released their second work “Lady Vitosha” that had a more mainstream sound and Dimo experimented in some folk instruments. The same year miniCD “Bolgaryan Art” appeared and the band introduced a new interesting neofolk acoustic sound. In 2006 Svarrogh released “Kukeri”, an excellent example of pagan folk black metal with many Bulgarian and Balkan traditional instruments, all played by Dimo. This was the best album of Svarrogh in their folk black metal phase. After this album the sound of the band changed a lot and since then all their albums are released from Ahnstern! “Balkan Renaissance” and “Temple of the Sun”, both released in 2007, reveal a totally ambient neofolk ethno industrial face of the band, while all metal elements are vanished. And now in 2008 Svarrogh return with a new full-length album “Yer Su” that I expected it to be a continuation of their last steps, or not?!…

“Yer Su” is ritualistic ancient Bulgarian pagan music, a return to the minimalistic atmosphere of Balkan ancestors. Many traditional instruments like kaval, gaida, gadulka, mandoline, bells, ukelele, ocarinas, snow steps, accordeon, tanpur, tamboura, bagpipes, flutes and clarinets were used in “Yer Su” by the really “gifted” Dimo Dimov, while some guest members were also invited (from Defiles des Ames, Allerseelen and Negura Bunget). The pleasant surprise is that some electric guitars (even if totally in the background) and some extreme vocals are back again. The result is very original and unique; unlike anything you’ve heard before and unlike anything Svarrogh have done so far. I believe it’s their best effort in this marriage of ritual Balkan music with elements of extreme metal, getting very close to the primordial essence of this music. Of course don’t expect to listen to black metal with this release. It’s like “Balkan Renaissance”, just with some extreme metal touches and better (in my opinion) compositions.

The vocals are mainly incantations, and except for the guitars and the folk instruments there are also many nature, ambient and industrial sounds, in a very variable result. Lyrics deal with surrealism and folkloric symbolism in Bulgarian mythology. It’s like a tapestry of ancient Bulgarian landscapes, villages, habits and a whole almost forgotten pagan culture unfolding before your eyes for almost 80 minutes! You can travel to older times and almost smell the forests, the mountains, the lakes, the farms and the old towns…The cd is released in a beautiful digipak with excellent artwork and an amazing cover photo by the Bulgarian artist Haate Kaate.

“Yer Su” isn’t for everyone, that’s for sure! Many people who expect to listen to something in the style of their earlier works maybe won’t appreciate it. But if you are interested for quality ritual folkloric music and you are open in such musical experiments, you should check them and let them take you in their journey through time in magical Balkan lands.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://svarrogh.net
Svarrogh @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

MORGART – Die Türme

MORGART – Die Türme








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Symphonic Metal
Label: Black Tower Productions
Year: 2007

This is the second album of the Swiss band Morgart. Morgart is somehow the continuation of an old black metal band Forsth, that split-up on 1999. Later Gonahr (one of the members of Forsth) decide to create this band. After their impressive debut “Die Schlacht (In Acht Sinfonien)” in 2005, where they played symphonic atmospheric epic medieval black metal, they return with a very different album.

Their music isn’t easy to describe. Maybe the term symphonic operatic blackish metal is the closest, but that’s not very precise… There are many keyboards that have the leading role in the songs with really nice ideas that relax and travel the listener back in time. The guitars are actually accompanying the melodies and the rhythms of the synths and they give a black metal touch to “Die Türme”, even though the vocals never become extreme. There are only clean male vocals and many opera-style singing (only male again). It’s like a lighter version of their previous work, but with this new ambitious experiment in the vocal lines. All the lyrics are in German and they deal with medieval towers from their homeland. Except for their music, Morgart like to search for their nation’s medieval history something that is obvious in the beautiful photos of their booklet and in their lyrics.

Coming to the music itself now, the whole result is very melodic, nostalgic and melancholic. It’s like a dark medieval soundtrack with many great ideas in the melodies and vocals. I believe that the vocals can take some improvement, since it’s not easy to sing this way, but of course they are at a very satisfying level for a first effort! I sure would like to listen to some black metal screams again (I think they still fit their music), but on the other hand, I welcome their new path, that can become better in the future. In their myspace page you can find some samples of their new album (unluckily nothing yet from their excellent debut). Recommended to all who like symphonic experimental music, or to black metal fans who’d like to rest their eardrums for a while…

dimiarch


Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Morgart @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

DARKSPACE – Darkspace III

DARKSPACE – Darkspace III








Origin: Switzerland
Genre: Black Metal Space Ambient
Label: Avantgarde Music
Year: 2008

There are some bands that aren’t very well known and when you listen to their music you just can’t understand why they don’t get the “fame” they deserve! Darkspace come from the rather inexperienced in the metal scene Switzerland and they belong to these underestimated bands. Their black metal is simply amazing and very original, while their name fits perfectly the atmosphere they create.

Their thematology deals with outer space in its darkest and ugliest form and they combine ambient and black metal in order to create this atmosphere. The result is excellent and the listener is transferred to alien vast unfriendly eras full of blackness. There are many ambient passages (reduced though, compared to their previous albums) that manage to describe the quiet, tranquil and endless matter of space. On the other hand there are raw black metal outbursts where the unsuspected listener comes face to face with totally alien hostile and cold survival conditions; a true holocaust! Many parts of the songs have a more mid tempo black metal sound and combined with the ambient keyboards’ amazing melodies, a completely unique haunting atmosphere is created. The production is better than their previous two releases (Darkspace I & II) and the vocals are extreme black metal screams like cries of primordial horror. They are perfect for their music and some of the best screams around.

“Darkspace III” is a true masterpiece and I recommend it to anyone who likes cold raw black metal, but with a unique dark melodic atmosphere. The feeling, the quality and the melodies of the compositions are really unquestionable and brilliant, while this album lasts for 79 minutes, including only 7 long songs! Their guitarist Wroth is also the man behind Paysage d’Hiver, another jewel of the underground black metal. The cd is released in normal jewel slipcase and in a limited digipak, which is already sold out. You can check the band in the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (10/10)

Links:
http://www.darkcyberspace.com
Darkspace @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

FOLKODIA – Odes From the Past

FOLKODIA – Odes From the Past








Origin: Various
Genre: Epic Black Metal Folk Metal Viking Metal
Label: Self Released
Year: 2008

Folkodia is a new project formed in 2007, containing many musicians from different countries, including Greece, something like Folkearth (actually many members are common in both bands). So, someone could ask if there are any differences between the two bands. Well, there are and for my taste I prefer Folkodia.

The basic composers are Simon Müller from Excelsis and Loki (also in Folkearth), while all the lyrics are written mainly by Marios Koutsoukos. Their music is epic folk Viking metal, with more folk elements than Folkearth. Some songs are more quiet / acoustic and others Viking black. Flutes, violins and other traditional instruments are everywhere, accompanying heavy or acoustic guitars in a medieval / Viking orgy. Especially the violins are enchanting fitting perfectly to the music. There many male singers with different types of vocals, while in the female ones Hildr Valkyrie gives again an excellent performance. The music ranges from heavy metal, black/death and doom to acoustic songs, all of them in their epic folkest versions. Even though it definitely has an underground sound and some “technical” problems the compositions are really nice. After all, in this Viking genre what counts most is this barbarian warrior atmosphere, instead of perfect skills or professional vocals…

If you liked Folkearth, you should invest on Folkodia; you won’t be let down. If you have never heard any of them you should expect epic Viking folk black metal with many “ballads”. The cd is self-released, but it is worldwide distributed by Stygian Crypt Productions, so it’s not that hard to find. You can get a taste of their music and find more info at the following links.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
Folkodia @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

ARKONA – От Сердца к Небу

ARKONA – Ot Serdtsa K Nebu








Origin: Russia
Genre: Folk Pagan Metal
Label: Napalm Records SoundAge Productions
Year: 2007

Arkona is the most successful Russian pagan black metal band. Leaded by the charismatic front-woman Masha “Scream” they have released 4 full-length albums from 2004 and most of their gigs are sold out. Many guest musicians from the metal and folk scene participate in their albums and their popularity both in Russia and abroad couldn’t be unnoticed, so they signed in Napalm Records for their future releases.

“Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies” is their fourth album and the last released by SoundAge Productions. It’s a great mixture of pagan black metal and traditional folk Russian music. Mascha’s amazing vocals are the band’s trademark. She has one of the best screams in the genre, while her clean folk vocals are simply perfect. The way she sings in both styles is unique and especially her “ethnic” vocals are like coming from another age, perfectly fitting with the archaic traditional atmosphere of their music. This album has a more folk acoustic approach. Many songs have only acoustic traditional instruments performed by skilled guest folk musicians from Russia, and the ones with guitars follow folk scales and tunes. The structures of the songs are very complex and very hard to define. Don’t expect the typical pagan black metal songs. Actually “Ot Serdtsa K Nebu – From the Heart to the Skies” must be seen as a concept album; like a big track. All the lyrics are in Russian and they speak about pagan ancient Slavic traditions and myths.

The production of the album is excellent and the quality of the music at very high levels. Unlike their previous albums this time they don’t search for catchy refrains, but they experiment more with the essence of their pagan folk music’s roots. The album is released in a normal jewel case cd and in a great digibook with a 28-page booklet! The artwork of the album is by Kris Verwimp and the result is excellent as always. This is a must have of the genre, that I am sure all of their fans already bought. If you don’t know Arkona (don’t confuse them with the Polish raw black metal band, or other bands with the same name) and want to listen to them you can follow the links below.

dimiarch

Rating:  (9/10)

Links:
http://arkona-russia.com
Arkona @ Facebook
Arkona @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

THYRFING – Hels Vite

THYRFING – Hels Vite








Origin: Sweden
Genre: Epic Black Metal Viking Metal
Label: Regain Records
Year: 2008

The anticipation in listening to a new Thyrfing album is always great for me! Thyrfing’s “Valdr Galga” was actually the first album of Viking black metal I’ve ever listened to it and it really dragged me to this genre. So together with “Urkraft” these two are in my favourites! “Vansinnesvisor” in 2002 and “Farsotstider” in 2005 were less Viking oriented (good albums, but I didn’t like them like their predecessors) and now comes this new album, the 6th in the long band’s history.

First of all there are some line-up changes, since two of the oldest members Thomas Väänänen and Henrik Svegsjö left the band, something that made me worry… But all my worries disappeared when I listened to the album. I would say that Thyrfing continue the previous album, in their new darker side, but with a return to their Viking roots! Of course don’t expect the majestic symphonic Viking songs with the epic choir refrains, but a slower, dark, deep and mature approach. The vocals of newcomer Jens Rydén are simply amazing, fitting perfectly with the band and they sound like he was always in Thyrfing. All of the songs are long (there are only 7 tracks with a total duration of more than 52 minutes) at mid-tempo with very heavy and full guitars, which have a more rhythmic role. The accompanying keyboards in the background help the band build the darker epic melodic atmosphere of the songs, making the sound more solid and complete. The compositions have a lot of work and despite their variety the outcome is like one big song. There are acoustic guitars, few clean vocals and choirs, some more quiet and some more bombastic songs, but they are all unified under “Hels Vite” dominant epic dark atmosphere.

Overall, I believe that this album is the best of Thyrfing’s new “era” and one very good sample of “professional” epic dark viking metal. It will be released in the end of October by Regain Records. Till then you can check some samples in their official pages.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.thyrfing.com
Thyrfing @ Facebook
Thyrfing @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

THEUDHO – Cult of Wuotan

THEUDHO – Cult of Wuotan








Origin: Belgium
Genre: Epic Black Metal Pagan Black Metal
Label: Det Germanske Folket
Year: 2008

Theudho is an epic pagan black metal band from Belgium formed back in 2002. In 2004 they released their first cd “Treachery”, in 2006 the cd “The Völsunga Saga” and now in 2008 they return with their third album “Cult of Wuotan”. While their debut was a little unbalanced, with some good songs and some indifferent, their sophomore effort was much better, still searching though for an identity. This new album however, takes them to the next step…

The sound of the band is much more solid and all the songs sound powerful. The compositions are improved and the melodies are based on the guitar lines accompanied by some keyboards, other times in the background and sometimes in a more leading role. It’s mainly mid-tempo with rhythmic epic riffing and very melodic guitars, while some acoustic instruments make their appearance here and there. The vocals are black/death with a very epic emotion. There are also some atmospheric male and female recitations especially in the beginning of the songs and some female vocals in a few songs. The songwriting is really great, making the album interesting from the beginning to the end, keeping it all the time at the same quality.

The impressive artwork is by the master Kris Verwimp, adding a lot to the total value of this album, at least for those who care… So if you are into pagan black metal and you are searching for a typical band of this genre, without any surprises or experiments, but at a very good level, you should give Theudho a try.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.theudho.com
Theudho @ Facebook

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews

BATTLELORE – The Last Alliance

BATTLELORE - The Last Alliance








Origin: Finland
Genre: Epic Metal Symphonic Metal
Label: Napalm Records
Year: 2008

The Finnish epic symphonic metallers are back with their fifth work. Battlelore have their own style of epic Gothic metal, with many symphonic elements and female vocals combined with black-death male ones. They follow the same “recipe” in all their works and it seems we shouldn’t expect anything different from them.

I believe that “The Last Alliance” is their best work so far. It’s not only the obvious improvements in their production and technical skills, but the much more interesting compositions. They manage to blend much better the more tranquil parts with the death metal growls and the result is much more solid. Female vocals have the lead role in the melodies of the songs, while there is usually a “conversation” with the “harsh” ones. Kaisa Jouhki’s voice is very fairytale-like and is perfect for the band’s image and thematology. Keyboards are widely used together with rhythmic guitars, adding to this contradiction of softer and harder parts. The lyrics are about fantasy tales and the orchestration and sound of the album is suitable for the feelings they want to create to the listener, especially in their more melodic parts, that are the band’s strong card.

This time there has been much more work on the composition of the songs and the result is more even than in their previous albums, that there were some interesting parts and some “fillers”. So if you like epic symphonic metal with Gothic and death metal touches, Battlelore is a great suggestion and “The Last Alliance” the best album to start exploring their music.

dimiarch

Rating:  (8/10)

Links:
http://www.battlelore.net
Battlelore @ Facebook
Battlelore @ Myspace

Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos

Posted in Reviews