Our new selection of releases by black metal bands from Ukraine, which includes the splits of Drudkh with Hades Almighty (Norway) and Grift (Sweden), 1914 and Minenwerfer (USA), Nokturnal Mortum and Graveland (Poland), Akoman and Rancour (Russia), as well as Moloch and Hermóðr (Sweden).
Drudkh / Hades Almighty — "Той, Хто Говорить З Імлою/One Who Talks With the Fog"
Kharkiv-based atmospheric black metal band Drudkh teamed up with the Norwegian experimental black metallers Hades Almightly to record the split that will return them both to the metalheads’ radar: the first one didn’t release a decent work from the time of "Microcosmos", causing doubts in their former greatness, and the second one didn’t record material since 2001, the date of their last LP "The Pulse of Decay". With the new release, we can see these remarkable bands in their best shape over the years.
In Drudkh’s two tracks with monolithic streams of blast beats and distortion, we find the beauty that they seemed to lose, and three songs by Hades Almightly (all were taken from 2015’s EP "Pyre Era, Black") vividly illustrate the coming back of the Norwegians’ second wind and the proper development of the long-standing ideas: playing experimental black metal, the guys took some folk elements from their early sound.
Drudkh / Grift — "Betrayed By The Sun / Hägringar"
This time, the second release in Drudkh’s splits 2016's series goes hand in hand with the depressive black metal project Grift from Sweden. Continuing its successful ascent to the previous quality, of Kharkiv’s group doesn’t lower the bar in the second split, which was raised with "One Who Talks With the Fog", while the one-man band Grift rather surprised, contrary to expectations. "Betrayed by the Sun" was released in the depressed but fascinating time when the sun hides its radiance behind the clouds’ archipelagos. Drudkh sacrificed a part of aggression for the sake of atmosphere, and Erik Gärdefors used his key strength to create a suitable mood by skilled gray stroke. Recommended for right now listening, while the sky disk is hiding behind the ashy horizon, because it’s the necessary soundtrack for this year’s autumn sadness.
1914 / Minenwerfer — "Ich hatt einen Kameraden"
The East Ukrainian atmospheric black metal passes the torch to Lviv’s black/death/doom metallers in the Western Ukraine. 1914 established contact with the Americans Minenwerfer and recorded a split dedicated to the First World War which is the main source of inspiration for both bands. The EP, loaded with eight heavy tracks, tells about the events of the Carpathian and Masurian campaigns, about hardships and tragedies of war. The ideological side of the release confuses a little a bit, but it’s not the first time when black metalheads get lost in the topics which are far away from their understanding. Despite the fact that this material ranks below the previous splits, this release for sure will find its audience.
Nokturnal Mortum / Graveland — "The Spirit Never Dies"
Twisting like the Ouroboros, we move again into the first capital to another important black metal band Nokturnal Mortum. Releasing its most powerful record "The Voice of Steel" in 2009, the musicians recorded with the Polish pagan metal veterans Graveland a new EP "The Spirit Never Dies". The split has a pretty sharp contrast to each of its parts: the Ukrainian band’s sound is polished, and the music is full of pathos, while Graveland’s three tracks are harsh, wild, and have much more folk influence. Their raw sound is more closer to the classic black metal. Unfortunately, this release also has contrast in the material quality: Nokturnal Mortum’s side is much brighter and more memorable than the part of their Western colleagues.
Akoman / Rancour — "Spiritual Satanic Universe"
The second last release of our compilation was recorded by the Ukrainian Vyshgorod-based band Akoman and the one-man project Rancour from Saint Petersburg. This split sounds as it should be for black metal: the furious avalanche-like blast beats, sunk in unholy mixture of distortion and shriek and wrapped in the underground "basement" sound — this is what we called true black metal. Mindful that nowadays pure black metal mimics among all conceivable genres, starting from post-black metal and ending with blackend, starved fans of classic sound definitely should pay attention to this EP.
Moloch / Hermóðr — "Split EP"
The last split is the shortest release in our selection, the fruit of labour of just two people: the Ukrainian musician Sergiy Fjordsson from the city Rivne (Moloch) and his fellow Rafn from Sweden (Hermodr). Only three tracks, one of which is an atmospheric intro, cover the topic of harsh northern climate. Generous on releases Moloch, playing something at the intersection of black metal and dark ambient sounds too poorly even for underground, losing many positive moments with not very good production. Rafn’s track has higher quality, its tune doesn’t stuck in annoying distortion, beautifully combining black metal brutality with melodiousness.
Reviewed by Alexander Tverdokhleb
Translated from Russian by Anastezia