​Check 'Em All: Diversity of Ukrainian black metal

Check 'Em All: Diversity of Ukrainian black metal

In the new CEA selection, we picked interesting releases by the Ukrainian black metallers KZOHH, Severoth, Do Skonu, Satan's War Machine, Galdur, and Kroda.

KZOHH — "Trilogy: Burn Out The Remains"

Check’s fresh selection is opened by the Ukrainian avant-garde black metal band KZOHH, consisting of former members Khors, Ulverg, Reusmarkt, and several other groups. KZOHH’s original concept is dedicated to the most large-scale epidemics in the history of the human race, and its third album still focuses on the transmission of emotions from the collision with this cruel instrument of the Universe.

"Trilogy: Burn Out The Remains" is full of various sounds, working on the atmosphere: the alarming bell, drops splash, whistling bullets against the backdrop of the painful cries — the band has managed to create the ambiance of nightmarish paintings, a series of events constantly float before the listener’s very eyes. However, the depth of music disappoints: it seems that KZOHH pay more attention to working on concepts and creation the right atmosphere because the music plays here more support function.

Nevertheless, the record can be named one of the most unusual among this year's black metal releases. "Trilogy: Burn Out The Remains" is a soundtrack to human helplessness while facing a terrifying fate in the form of plague, which causes truly unique emotions.

Follow the link to read the interview with the band’s vocalist Zhoth.

Severoth — "Самітність"

One of the most productive musicians on the Ukrainian scene returns with the eponymous one-man project, a year after the debut LP "Winterfall". His new album "Самітність" ["Loneliness" in Ukrainian] differs another mood: it responds with autumn melancholy, that period of autumn when a colorful shell is already thrown and drying insides are bared. Contrasting with winter snowfall of the previous album, the fading world, which is the main protagonist of "Самітність", comes to the foreground. The musician was inspired by the works of Ukrainian poets and it’s felt: pastoral lyrics is poetic and precise, the album becomes an iconic visual work, in which music, with the prevailing ambient keyboards and supporting guitar riffs, is only an accompaniment which helps to increase the atmosphere, while remaining the shadow of the lyrics part. The lengthy compositions with a minimum of instrumental boons are perfect for listening to in background and for lost in thought, but not everyone will get the pleasure of music.

Do Skonu — "Hell"

Makiivka-based duo, who plays black metal with a bit of death metal and a pinch of occult, presented a new release with a laconic title "Hell". Intentionally raw production creates authentic complex of sensations from kingdom of darkness, in which the listener is brewed in the cauldron of scalding riffs and breaking bones blast beats, while his neck is bent by vibrations and cracking because of the bass pressure, and a diabolical voice in his head sings poisonously with recitative growl in the style of Immortal about his unenviable fate. For the fans of melodic and harmonious parts, this release will be a personal hell, but those who got on this page, not by chance, after listening to such "Hell", quite possibly will want to come back in there.

Satan's War Machine — "Violent Death Abomination"

Luhansk’s black metallers have broken the long 3-year silence and recorded their debut LP with the title and cover, reminding the black/death metal bands with hypertrophic showy brutality. The content complies with the cover, the album’s sound rotates between the old school thrash black metal and technical death metal, sometimes reaching almost to the breakdowns like in "Pure Evil". Extreme instrumental fullness does not turn the album into banging cacophony which demonstrates quite high compositional skills of the band’s members. "Violent Death Abomination" is the perfect choice for those who want to have a good moshing or train a neck before headbanging, but music lovers who expect here something more besides technical performance, some thoughts or visual metaphors behind the music, will be a bit disappointed.

Galdur — "Age of Legends"

The black sheep of today's selection is a new release of the side project by abovementioned musician Severoth which isn’t much related to black metal. The atmospheric ambient, communicating with the audience mainly through keyboards, background effects, and rarely drum machine, perfectly recreates the ambiance of Tolkien’s epic fantasy novels, which obviously inspired the musician.

Severoth consciously moved away from the black metal influence into the lighter area — "Age of Legend" is a music about the great adventures and amazing worlds, it’s a soundtrack transmitting the fabulous spirit of the famous author’s books. Here, many compositions and lengthy melodies of Severoth look much more appropriate than in his same-named project. It’s an interesting work, especially taking into account the relation with the popular concept, but losing more eminent representatives of atmospheric ambient.

Kroda — "Kalte Aurora — Live in Lemberg II (HelCarpathian Black Metal Chapter I)"

The right ending act of the selection becomes the live album of the Ukrainian band Kroda, which performs pagan metal with folk and black metal influence, and quite some time now with a bit of ambient. The group, which includes eight members, at the beginning of the year, has played literally the real three-hour performance in Lviv, which was accompanied by visuals and atmospheric effects. This release is just a second part of the triple edition, it’s the first black metal set, which was preceded by a fully ambient prolog. The record lasted 43 and a half minutes and features the main hits of Kroda, with significant emphasis on 2015’s "GinnungaGap GinnungaGaldr GinnungaKaos". The material is professionally performed and not too different from the original, and the concert recording is quality as well.

Judging by the reviews, the show turned out a really impressive, despite some purely technical failures, which on the album can not be noticed and it’s a disadvantage of the release — like it or not, but "Kalte Aurora — Live in Lemberg II (HelCarpathian Black Metal Chapter I)" is just a record of the live performance which cannot convey the authentic atmosphere and amazing experience of the concert. In any case, Kroda haven’t just played a gig, but made a thoughtful show, starting with atmospheric mystery, immersing the audience into the special state, and continuing it with the energetic tempestuous performance which became the apotheosis, where the audience found the vent to their emotions. This live album is the apogee of the band to date, and an example for the majority of Ukrainian bands, how one should approach to live performances.

Reviewed by Alexander Tverdokhleb
Translated from Russian by Anastezia
For the main pic were used KZOHH's photo by ShadeGrownEye, Bandcamp, Satan's War Machine's photo is taken on Facebook, Kroda by Ольга Рагнарёкова, VK

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