The Sad Sordid Saga of Semargl

An in-depth look at what goes wrong (everything) when black metal goes clubbing.

In 2010, I thought I’d struck internet gold when randomly clicking around on YouTube rewarded me with a track from Ukraine’s Semargl. Here was a band I’d never heard of with a great sound, several albums to explore and my pathetic hope that, if they found success, I could follow their career and perhaps gain more enjoyment out of their future endeavors as they grew and matured as a band. I was wrong.

According to Wikipedia, Semargl is:

a deity or mythical creature in East Slavic mythology, depicted as a winged lion or dog. The Zoryas, solar goddesses who are servants or daughters of the deity Dazhbog, keep Simargl chained to the star Polaris in the constellation Ursa Major, to prevent him from breaking free and destroying the constellation, and causing the world to end.

Oh shit that RULES. Said winged lion-dog would most certainly disapprove of some Ukrainian dudes adopting its name in order to make decent black metal, then grungier black metal, then different stuff, then… well I’m getting ahead of myself, but the point is not to taunt the ancient winged lion-dog gods, dude. They have their ways of getting revenge. Humiliating, humiliating revenge.

semargl_blackbg“Rawr buddy” – Semargl

On that note, let’s go ahead and take a look at the strange, uncomfortably erotic musical journey of where this band started and where they ended up.


Attack on God (2005)

Following the standard black metal tradition of releasing a couple demos no one can find anymore, Semargl’s first full-length is an extremely not bad entry, taking bits of inspiration from early Dimmu Borgir, EmperorDiabolical Masquerade and similar others who were fond of keyboards (as was the style at the time). Decent production, solid riffs, appropriately blasphemous artwork, occasional incorporation of some OSDM sounds and the balls to let the bassist slap the strings around instead of over-fuzzing or outright burying him completely. This could easily have been a transition album from Behemoth before they wandered out of the proverbial black metal forest and into the swampy marsh of blackened-barber-shop-ownership. Overall, good album.

Clues this black metal band will one day use eye searing green screen effects angrily rejected by Mariah Carey: none yet.


Satanogenesis (2006)

Vid above starts at 0:29. With a noticeably slower start, murkier guitar tone and less keyboard than Attack on God, the band seems intent on immediately making their musical expansion known in their second release. With plenty of icy black metal influence still present, mid-paced Morbid Angel-esque death metal influences begin to share equal billing with tremolo-laden blasting. As with the preceding album, the band here is a riff generator operating at maximum capacity, constantly hitting the listener with something new and repeating sections only when needed. There are also three effect-heavy instrumental tracks here to serve as pallet cleansers between songs – nothing out of the ordinary for a band like this, and hey I love that kinda thing.

Clues this blackened metal band soon will irrevocably sow the blinking seed of an epileptic neon horrorfruit yet to bloom: the final track indicates at least one band member has a distinct interest in beat-making. Uh oh…


Manifest (2007)

Vid above starts at 0:48. This is the riff that was my very first introduction to the band, and what a riff. It has everything I ever want in music: minor key nastiness, machine gun drumming and full-on “let’s fucking windmill” swagger. This is a confident statement by a band that knows where it’s going and knows how to get there by unleashing the sound it’s been cultivating over the last two albums. The remaining 65 minutes of the album teeter back and forth between tremolos & blasting, groove & dissonance and carefully placed noise intermissions to create a statement on themes of war and collapse.

Clues this groove-heavy extreme band will eventually pump out overpriced martini anthems for dudes who shave their forearms: none! They mercifully seem to have altered course. Let’s hope it stays that way (it won’t).


Ordo Bellictum Satanas (2010)

You know what? I’m on board with this. Yeah there’s a heavy dose of black & roll era Satyricon in this sound, but they pull it off well. Unfortunately, the album also contains this song, which is very bad and not good, and an obvious plea on at least one band member’s part to be taken seriously by the dance club venues or something. I can hear the phone call to a close friend now. “I just don’t know один, my band’s image lies with Satan, by my heart longs for the neon tinged, vomit-covered floors of the club scene. We have a new album in the works and I’ve got all these unused techno demos just collecting dust. If only I could combine the two into something gross and unsatisfying for everyone… hey, еврика!”

Clues this band expanding its musical horizons would rather be scoring the soundtrack to someone’s worst bachelor party ever where half the guys can’t get in because of their dingy tracksuits and the other half are already drunk because they started drinking Horilka at 8AM: their next album cover is this.


Satanic Pop Metal (2012)

Following the example set by “Credo Revolution” from the previous album, the band has decided to make music for that particular breed of metal fan who wants to A) rock the fuck out with their metal heroes, B) jerk off. Possibly at the same time, I can’t and won’t confirm. Enter two hot, hot lesbian nuns hotly making out all hot & shit brah. Dude, get this: one of them is dressed in white, see? She’s the “pure” one. But the other one is dressed in black, she’s the “temptress.” Get it?! Ohhhh man I wonder what hot lesbiany trouble they’re going to get intOH MY GOD MOM YOU NEED TO KNOCK BEFORE YOU COME IN HERE I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING I SWEAR IT’S A METAL VIDEO GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT.

And then from the same album, we suddenly have a personnel and costume change, and this epileptic monstrosity finds its way online:

Not even bothering to hide it now. Just let it all out, Semargl.

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 Is that evil mime lost?

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Oh wait it’s just Galder’s stunt double in a Hello Kitty commercial.

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Everyone looks like they’re genuinely having fun. The previous sentence is a lie.

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The rare Bahamut Eurotrash summoning from Final Fantasy 8.


Love (2014)

Oh no, we’re not done yet. Just in case the “repressed nun porn” and “luxury iPhone case” aesthetics of the previous videos haven’t fully sold you yet on what Semargl has to offer, their next album seems to have done away with the band entirely and is little more than a woman singing over stock audio for a shampoo commercial, complete with stock video for… also a shampoo commercial. And more porn.

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“Ukrainian winters can be murder on your hair.”

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“Restore moisture and confidence with our new Organic Kale Acai Strawberry Cinnamon Sugar Cake Follicular Exfoliating Restorative Conditioner.”

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“L’Oréal. Because you’re worth it.” MOM AAAHHHH HOLY SHIT YOU DID IT AGAIN YOU HAVE TO KNOCK DAMMIT IT’S JUST ANOTHER METAL VIDEO I SWEAR TO GOD GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT


Killer Dance (2014)

Two albums in one year. Clearly this is high-quality stuff they’re making. Just look at this screenshot and take a random guess how it sounds, I’m not even gonna bother posting it.

youtubescreenshot

Also, note to self: check out video about Captain Kirk meeting Ashley Judd; likely contains 0% Semargl.


Ugh. Uuuuuuggghhh. There you have it. From Attack On God to Killer Dance in only 9 years. Don’t do ecstasy, kids.

So where are they now? Who the fuck cares? One of the guys went on to form melodic death metal act Dimicandum. Singer Rutarp is doing his own Rutarp thang. The singer with the mile-long red wig is in a symphonic metal band called Mysterya. Models and/or dancers appearing in their terrible videos were likely not paid very well for their day’s work and had a good laugh at the completed product; mentions of Semargl were omitted from their resumes. The female drummer quit and is now married to an entertainment lawyer in Sherman Oaks, CA. All green screen effects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Flushmargl

(via via)

  • Rain Poncho W.

    They should have junctioned DOOMTRAIN instead of Bahamut. https://68.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lusbtc8wvD1qfa1jdo1_400.gif

    • SupremeKrieg

      Fvckin doomtrain bullshit. You ever seen those fvckin trains in the old black and white movies that would try to run over the fvckin damsel? Those are fvckin true.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        You’re on an untrue bender today

    • ME GORAK™✓ᶜᵃᵛᵉᵐᵃⁿ
  • CyberneticOrganism

    Weird coincidence: checking twitter today I see that the guitarist Alex was involved with creating Perfect Drums, a Superior Drummer-type software: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3vpoBatuafHXHXwfzuXnaw

    • SupremeKrieg

      Nothing superior about that false shit.

  • GL

    Solid flush, Cybro!

    GL

    • KyleJMcBride

      Lots of fiber in that one!

  • SupremeKrieg

    Fvckin false fvcks. Burn the untrue.

  • The second imgur video thing up there kinda reminds me of your president.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c47a975009702055c329d28cb67b5f24c89865bf0b3690c8f8e2bc7c2ba732f5.gif

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I’d rather watch the Discolove video on repeat for a week than watch anything related to that sentient loose turd.

    • Óðinn

      Ironically, Trump is mentally handicapped himself.

  • sweetooth0

    It really is baffling how this band turned to absolute shit. Their old releases were pretty solid stuff, black metal with an emphasis on deeper death metal gutturals was pretty novel at the time. Then ffffflllllrrrrrrrrrpppppppgghghh.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I still listen to Manifest and Attack On God, really not sure how they could take such a left turn into clubbing bullshit. Just make a separate project.

      • sweetooth0

        yeah, ridiculous. I remember I found out about them through a mini flyer that was thrown into a mailorder package I got from some obscure black metal label, so it seems like they started out legit.

  • Elegant Gazing Globe

    Wonder what Tertius thinks

    • SupremeKrieg

      I’ll tell you what I think. This untrue fvcks play false music, that’s what I think.

      • KyleJMcBride

        POSERS.

        • SupremeKrieg

          Untrue false ones.

  • EsusMoose

    I think these were the guys I’ve been trying to find for a few years after seeing some super shitty song of theirs online but forgot any useful search info about, gave up and now here it is

  • Óðinn
    • SupremeKrieg

      Fvckin Tolkien, true warrior of the unfalse.

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY
  • no

  • Primordial Chaos

    Being flushed is the destiny they deserve, ha ha ha, the Toilet Ov Hell does not forgive, come, Semargl, come, have no fear: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3aaf960a043041c9285302d344b532e207f7f87066bde73dad04aed9bb669cec.gif

  • Howard Dean

    Their videos at least have promise (when muted). I’ll give these weird fuckers that:

    http://i.imgur.com/UuAofKF.mp4

    • CyberneticOrganism
      • Howard Dean

        There was not a single half-naked Slav in that entire six minute video.

        FAIL

    • Óðinn

      “(when muted)”. Nice.

      • GoatForest

        Hey, that’s what Ice T said about Minaj’s “Anaconda ” video.

        • Óðinn

          That’s true. Nicki Minaj is an annoying person.

          • GoatForest

            Very much so.

          • Max

            She does a cracking British accent though.

          • Óðinn

            She does crack.

  • Solid work, robit! I bet the, um, research was equally grating and gratifying.

  • Maik Beninton™
    • KyleJMcBride

      Excellent.

    • GoatForest

      Those are my two favorite characters from the whole series, so this has been quite enjoyable for me.

  • Kyle Reese

    Band members were not allowed on the set of the shoot of the lesbian scene, for uh, reasons undisclosed.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      монтаж

  • Crocodylus★Pontifex

    Take note kids and musicians: this is the audio equivalent of your brain degrading with the more anime you watch!

    Sponsored by A.A.R.E. (Anime Abuse Resistance Education)

  • Count_Breznak

    Im still waiting for Satyricon to release an album full of Falco covers.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Impale Me Amadeus

  • President Chester A. Arthur

    I like that song in the video from Ordo Bellictum Satanas quite a bit. I’ll be checking out that album. The black metal songs from before are pretty good. The rest of the shit afterward is ridiculous.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Most of the poppier Ordo stuff is good, minus a couple meh tracks. Posting that song for this article reminded me of how much fun it is to jam to.

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    This is why creativity and artistic growth shouldn’t always be encouraged.

  • Black Smallbeard

    yeah but i uh . . . .like the uh. .. look of ol Irina there

  • GoatForest

    This is what happens when a band sells out but doesn’t realize that no one wants to buy.

  • Waynecro

    Awesome article, Cybro. This shit cracked me up and bummed me out. What the fuck happened? Did the guys in the band just decide that playing black metal didn’t get them laid enough. Did they take too much Eastern European Molly? It’s a fuckin’ shame.

  • Depechemodeisgangsta

    Is there such a thing as “Pop Metal” anymore, i know it was kind of used on the whole “Glam Metal” with Poison, White snake, Def Leppard, bands like that.

    I don’t understand, why those bands, they just keep same members, and do a “Side project” change the name of the “Group” and just keep making music on the side project, instead of keeping the old name and making that drastic change, cause i don’t think people would mind that.

    • Óðinn

      Babe-eMetal, Lordi, Avenged Sevenfold?

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Negative.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      Raunchy from Denmark are straight-up pop metal, pretty good too (when you’re in the mood for it). Warning: silly white guy 80s vocals in the beginning, just stick thru it.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fRagfG2Tb8

      • Depechemodeisgangsta

        For what it was, it wasn’t that bad, it reminded me a lot of like, “Christian Hard rock” on some parts.

  • Max

    I thoroughly enjoyed this. Well done, Cybernetic!

    The nine-year timeframe has got me thinking about what a similar retrospective would be like for the band I used to be in before my current one.

    I joined them in ’09 and got sacked a few years ago. They’re still together, and in the time they’ve been around, they’ve managed to release exactly two 4-song EPs (the first of which was just the guitarist doing everything himself in his bedroom). Their style hasn’t really changed at all, and it’s always been more-or-less Alice in Chains-inspired grunge metal. Almost every riff they play reminds you of something from Soundgarden, Tool, Rollins Band or some other Captain Obvious ’90s heavy rock fare.

    Around the time I left (mid-2014), we were starting work on a third 4-song EP, which they still haven’t completed. It might come out later this year, which means each song would have taken an average of nine months. Moreover, from occasionally hate-reading their Instagram, I can see that they’re playing the exact same setlist that they were during my tenure.

    So such a retrospective would be…uneventful, to say the least. In that light, I guess we can give Semargl some credit for at least trying to develop meaningfully, misfires or not.

    • CyberneticOrganism

      I can relate to that a bit, I think a lot of authors and readers here can relate to it too. Saying “life gets in the way” is pretty hackneyed and lame but it’s true.

      And yeah had Semargl just continued on their merry kvlt way they wouldn’t be getting as much flak from jerks like me who found their early stuff and then recoiled in horror at their current schtick.

    • NDG

      Hey Max, can I asked why you were sacked?

      • Max

        To be honest, the band probably wouldn’t see it that way – they’d probably say I “left because of musical differences.” And it’s true I was never formally “fired” as such.

        But basically, they went on hiatus while the guitarist/band-leader got his head together, and once he decided to continue with it (at least to the point of recording that third EP and playing some shows to promote it), I did actually commit to staying in the band to help do those things. I’d sounded out the drummer about starting another band with me during the hiatus period, but he didn’t bite. (I was upfront about all of that with the guitarist.)

        Soon afterwards I got into another conversation with the drummer where I said I wasn’t that thrilled by the new songs the guitarist had written for the forthcoming EP (not that I hated them; just that I didn’t like them as much as his earlier stuff). I suspect that conversation must have gotten reported back to the guitarist and perhaps that was the catalyst for letting me go. (The guy didn’t like me much anyway.)

        None of them ever spoke to me or made contact again. I only realized I wasn’t in the band anymore by looking at the Facebook page one day and seeing that a gig date had been booked without asking me if I was available to play it (as was the usual convention).

        So that’s why I tell people I was “sacked.” Sure, they didn’t formally do so; but I never formally said “I’m leaving” either – in fact I’d said the opposite. So it was a bummer, but hey – the joys of playing in bands.

  • Óðinn

    Yup. It’s been a strange journey from “Satanism” to “Feelings”.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c9a34387e83a3226f1740aae576582d9b1d734795a013cb3634f39de5f59ae32.png

    • CyberneticOrganism

      lol I saw that too, FVVLINGS

  • Taylor

    I’ve got to get one of those ab shirts they wear under ordo bellictum satanas. Never again will I enter a gym