On 15th of September 2012, Russian label SoundAge Productions released a very interesting split album of two new Russian pagan folk metal bands. Сердце-Камень (Serdce-Kamen) is the new band of Alexey «Nightbird» Solovyev (ex-frontman, bassist, composer and poet of Alkonost from 1996 till 2010). Духи Предков (Dukhi Predkov) is a young band, coming from the coast of great Russian river Volga and they have already released a full-length album.
Сердце-Камень contribute to this album with the 4-track EP “Жизнь“. Alexey is the only member of this band, since he composes all music and plays all instruments, with the help of many guest musicians though (most of them from Grai). The band was formed in 2010 and its music is melodic folk pagan metal with a great combination of brutal male and wonderful folk female vocals by Irina (Grai). In my opinion there are similarities with Alkonost in the overall sound and approach of folk metal, since both bands base their folk melodies mostly in the guitar lines and female vocals and less in the traditional instruments! The production is very professional and much more than satisfying, especially for a debut. The 4 songs last for about 20 minutes, but they are more than enough to get a good taste of their music. Their compositions are mostly in mid-tempo rhythm, full of melodic parts with clean vocals (male and female), but there are also some more extreme elements, especially in the pagan screaming vocals. The band manages though to combine everything in a very balanced result.
Духи Предков’s side contains also 4 songs, the EP “Вещие Cны“, with a total duration of almost 17 minutes. This 5-piece band was formed in 2005 and 6 years later they released their debut album “Terra Ursorum” via Metalism Records. Their music belongs to the pagan folk metal genre in general, but there are elements from other genres in their sound too, with death and metalcore being the most dominant of them. The band seems to be divided between two quite different “worlds” and their compositions keep these “worlds” separated rather than merged. So they often change their sound from modern death metal, with heavy riffs, to folk black metal, with melodic guitars, beautiful flutes and synths. They rarely combine both genres at once and this is my only “objection” to their music. I find them much better in their melodic folk pagan metal parts, but of course I like this genre much more than death and metalcore in general… Anyway, they have a very good sound in both styles and the dare to experiment with something different, trying to find their own personal identity. Their vocals is mostly a combination of death metal growls and pagan black metal screams, with a few clean vocals. By the way, Alexey from Сердце-Камень and MirRon from Путь Солнца appear as guest singers on 2 songs. Both bands in this split sing in Russian only.
Usually I don’t like split releases very much, but this is a different case, since both bands belong to the same genre, so if you are into Slavic pagan folk metal you will most probably like them. Furthermore, both bands are new and worthy of your attention, so this album is a great way to introduce you to their music. “Ветви Oдного Древа” is released by SoundAge in a standard jewel case edition, including an 8-page booklet with all the lyrics and this wonderful cover artwork by Smerdulak! If you are interested, you can visit the following links to listen to each band.