None More Black: The Conjunction of the Old and the New

1253
45
Share:

This column has been absent for a while too long.

Even if Tyree has certainly done his best to keep the flame burning with Pure Fucking Armageddon, after having mentioned in his second edition of the series that it wasn’t going to be all black, I decided to step in. This isn’t going to be a very frequent series; only to surface at times I feel blackness is most needed. To further separate this from Tyree’s excellent series, the focus will not be on new-ish releases (although they might be included) but rather on older albums oft overlooked, releases that went without fanfare but deserve a chance, a look back at the classics and possibly even opinions! Resurrected shall be the Black Metal Track of the Week  Whatever Time-Fame I Feel Like Writing These In as well. But for starters we shall dine in the halls of the ancients, celebrated by the conjunction of metal and folk to most appropriately commemorate this occasion on which old and new merge.

Without any further elaborations let’s get to the business. I present to you a black metal band of the pagan-kind.

The Ukrainian Kroda have that pagan prefix for a reason. In their arsenal lie folk-instruments, the use of which is not entirely dissimilar to the excellent Nokturnal Mortum, and the compositions are folklore-ish in their own right, even without the actual folk instrumentation. The songwriting on the other hand is rather different from NM – especially on Kroda’s later works – utilizing an experimental undercurrent that works to their favor. Having begun as a studio band, they have performed live since 2007. Encyclopedia Metallum currently lists as many as 7 members, and despite having been associated with the NS scene, for one reason(s) beyond me, they have never actually been an NSBM band nor held such beliefs. That’s all the facts you need to have, I suppose, so let’s carry on.

On their latest album GinnungaGap GinnungaGaldr GinnungaKaos, released earlier this year, Kroda builds a more compact album (38 minutes) from more compact songs (8 songs between 4 and 5 minutes) than before. They know all the usual tricks: catchy tremolo riffs, powerful but not endless blasts, and guitar harmonies mixed with the folk instruments’ melodic work. Basically there’s nothing new at hand, but everything is well done and memorable, with a progressive undercurrent separating Kroda from pretty much all their peers. The folklore-ish side of the music isn’t overpowering, and you’ll be hearing a lot less flutes than on your average Eluveitie album; this is a black metal album at heart.

If you liked it, check out their next-to-last release Schwarzpfad here.

_______________________________

Since the absence has been long and the bands are similar, I present to you Kawir, one of the better black metal bands to arise from the Hellenic lands, the antiquity of which they are largely inspired by. Boasting or having boasted members from such bands as Varathron, Flegethon, Thy Darkened Shade, Nergal and Nocturnal Death might have been enough to catch my eye,but of all these connections I learned only later on.

I first heard their name when Steelfest announced their line-up and was left unimpressed by the song I heard. However a few more spins (call it natural-born stubbornness) and my curiosity was piqued enough to catch them live. The first thing that caught my attention in their performance, however, wasn’t the music. It was the mountain-of-a-man manning the guitar (mind you, I said nothing ’bout his height) and the vocalist standing tall, delivering his sermon like a priest after a good meal, preaching to the starving poor about their wretchedness; a sight both amusing and impressive at once. I’m glad I stayed, as the band did not only do their best to separate themselves from the dark masses once the guitar melodies transitioned to flutes (and a kanonaki?) but also revealed themselves to be a very capable band. Kawir proved, in fact, a surprise highlight of the whole fest and mind you, the folk-influence would not count at all if the songs were not good in their own right. Sadly, three of the band’s members (Ormenos, Phaesphoros and Askalaphos) have very recently retired from their duties in Kawir, leaving multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Therthonax and, despite Encyclopedia Metallum’s reluctance to credit him, Nick Angelopoulos (the mountain) as the band’s only current members.

 

 

They’ve come a long way from the Varathron-meets-Necromantia sound of “Adored Cry of Olympus” to the folk-laden melodies of “To Demeter”, but I have thoroughly enjoyed them all the way. I suggest you check out the Bandcamp pages for both Deathrune Records and Those Opposed Records [More on this label in the near future -W.], as they feature different albums. And give Kawir a like on Facebook.

In the end the differences between these bands seem minor, but the effect is gargantuan. While it is harder to see anyone not into “regular” black metal liking Kawir (and I can see the folklore-ish stuff being a turn off for those who are), Kroda might be appreciated by a wider audience. For the latter the addition of folk-instruments feels more like a main ingredient, never overused mind you, whereas for Kawir it seems more like a seasoning to a good meal. While others may prefer theirs bare, those with exquisite taste would not have it any other way.


Black Metal Track Of Whatever Time-Frame I Feel Like Writing These In

Drudkh released a new album this year and it went without as much fanfare as one would expect. I wasn’t sure how to feel of it at first, but slowly it’s growing on me. The closer, “Till Foreign Grounds Shall Cover Eyes”, is one of the catchier songs on the album and stands shoulder to shoulder with the band’s classics.

Image (via)

Did you dig this? Take a second to support Toilet ov Hell on Patreon!
  • Dubzlinger, Malandro

    That Kroda album is good. Was going to review for mini-reviews, but the Masterblaster talked about it so much I figured I should leave it for him.

  • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

    Hey, this ain’t bad. Folky black metal is a hit or miss with me most of the time, but this is rad. I get a Saor vibe which is more than alright. Killer man, Thanks for the recommendation. Captivating shit.

    Hope to see more of this series.

    • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

      Listening to GinnungaGap​-​GinnungaGaldr​-​GinnungaKaos now. Damn, that’s one hell of an album title.

      • Pagliacci is Kvlt

        I’m giving it a listen too. So far it’s GinnungaGood.

        • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

          About half way through it now. Really well crafted material, and like I said… Very captivating. Plus there are many Tom G. Warrior grunts.

  • Hubert

    I’d like to see more of this series. Black Metal has been growing on me a lot lately. Not too long ago I dismissed pretty much everything called Black Metal, now I can’t get enough of it.

    And Kroda sounds pretty great.

  • Howard Dean

    What asshole started this series?

    He must’ve been quite a lazy fuck and a quitter.

  • JamesGrimm
  • 365chaosriddendays

    “Kroda” with “Drudkh” are a good set of two from Ukraine. Another band are “Khors” that you can listen on their bandcamp page, their latest album “Night Falls onto the Front of Ours” maybe deserves a place in the golden toilet.

    • tertius_decimus

      I’ve seen Khors and Nokturnal Mortum on the stage in one day. Khors rips as a live band, however their studio work isn’t impressive like late Nokturnal Mortum stuff. NM on the stage sounds too loud, they play almost at ear-deafening level, however, they lack some energy that Khors has.

      Fun fact: when Nokturnal Mortum were playing as a support band for Belphegor, many visitors attended the show for the sake of NM instead of Austrian headliner.

      • 365chaosriddendays

        I agree about Khors speaking of studio work and about Belphegor, yes is a fun fact but I’m not surprised about them but I can’t judge because I never heard them live, are they good on stage?

        • tertius_decimus

          To be honest, I’ve seen better. But what does my opinion count, I’m not black metal fan…

          • 365chaosriddendays

            Well, you’re not the only one as I heard before, I like Black Metal but this does not means that a band offers a killer performance and it’s cool just because I like the genre and sincerely, Belphegor to me are not so astounding.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree
          • 365chaosriddendays

            Welcome back from hell dude, yes, the guy rips, indeed I’m not saying something bad about them, “Goatreich -Fleshcult” and “Blutsabbath” are my favourite, the early albums are better in my opinion, ha, good drummers? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i84nDtUIfo8

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Jesus fucking Christ, this dude is incredible.

          • 365chaosriddendays

            Yes, anytime my jaw falls on the fucking ground, this guy is amazing, not insanely fast only but he changes tempos pretty often, well, he’s not human!

          • Count_Breznak

            That’s about their 5th or 6th by now.

          • tertius_decimus

            Agreed, I’ve stopped listening Belphegor since “Goatreich – Fleshcult”. Also, they hold absolute record for nonsense lyrics in my book. Belphegor outweighs many rap bands in that regard.

          • The Haunting Presence of Tyree

            Goatreich Fleshcult was the first album I heard by them. Still my favorite by them even though some of the production is complete shit. That’s when they sort of peaked I think. They just got worse and worse as they went on though. Some of their earlier shit is pretty rad though.

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmAOB6iCXfc

  • Kroda sounds very cool, the guitars sounds very warm and the drumming is excellent. I like this type of folky black metal with extensive reverb riffing, like Antlers, for example. The acoustics sounds beautiful with the layers that the keyboards do. And the singing is very… Unique, I think.

    I remember you shared To Demeter; I’m still liking this second song than Adored Cry of Olympus.

    Greeat roundup, Bear. Thanks!

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      If you like Kroda, I think you need to give Downfall of Nur another listen through. Like Tyree said, this has a Saor vibe, and DoN has a HUGE Saor vibe.

      • I have last Saor in the wishlist of Bandcamp, but it’s kind of hard to me to stream full albums here and I forgot it.

        I will tag it, then. Thanks, Pagli.

  • Scrimm

    That last track was probably my favorite off that new Drudkh. I’ve lost my taste for most black metal, not much catches my ear anymore.

  • The new Kroda is incredible. Definitely their best work. Good call on Kawir too, though I prefer Epoptia to their most recent album.

  • sweetooth0

    That Kroda is good shit! Usually I’m not really big on the pagan/folk stuff (straight up evil blasphemous shit is more my style), but this is more inline with something like Drudkh so I can get with this.

    • sweetooth0

      dammnit if that flute doesn’t even fit perfectly with their tunes. Colour me impressed.

  • Zeke

    Nergal!!! I forgot they even existed. They had a song on some compilation that I used to love. I’m going to find it when I get home