Bringing death, black, and thrash metal into an exhausting and thrilling tempest of imagination and corrosive enterprise, Spellbook the debut album from Canadian band Haiduk, is a startlingly impressive introduction to an artist who you can only imagine going on to make a deep rooted mark on extreme dark hearted metal. The ten track album is a fascinating and invigorating often quite merciless intrusion, a stunningly crafted carnal encounter which devours and rewards with equal potency.
Haiduk is the solo project of Calgary based Luka Milojica, a musician investigating and creating a pure undiluted musician union between shadow driven musical ideas and the listener for a unique and solitary provocation free from outside influences. The first strike from the project came with the raw and ravenous 8-song demo Plagueswept in 2010. Missed by most it was a potent and intriguing statement which Spellbook reaps for an intensive and magnificent evolution. With tracks considering themes of magic, evil, nature, and myth, the album explores the listener and their thoughts as well as emotions, as eagerly as it does its own intent and enthralling journey.
The self-released album opens on the insatiable rampage of Lich, the track a torrent of ravenous riffs and urgent rhythms which escapes through melodic flumes of sonic beauty and carefully crafted inviting malevolence. It is an unbridled flight of intensive energy with imaginative guitar persuasion playing at will upon the irresistible onslaught. Immediately the track lays a deep rooted lure within the listener which seduces and increases all album long, and is an open declaration of the skill and invention of Milojica.
The following Stormcall and Black Wind both offer the same rapacious confrontation in their unique and contagious guises, the first with a more merciful pressure in its face to ear attack but loaded with the dark serpentine growls and scowls of the vocals. It is a brief storm of corrosion handing over to the ruinous breath of the second of the pair, its intriguing and unpredictable insistent severe dance on the senses a mauling intensity veined by infectious melodic sonic flames. Both tracks leave a lingering mark and hunger for the already impressive temptation of album and artist.
Next up track Maelstrom unleashes exactly what its name suggests, a ravenous expanse of unsympathetic and unquenchable oppression from erosive and scalding sonic mastery and pungently acrimonious riffs, the attack swarming over the senses with no respite or kindness given. It is a fatigue inducing encounter which leaves bliss as the overriding emotion and is soon replicated in its individual spite by Forcefield, another track of dangerously niggling yet deliciously compelling sonic fortitude and viciousness.
Through the likes of the enchanting yet violent Hex and the outstanding Tremor with its insidious inventive form of continuous sonic teasing and grooved melodic tempting leaving a burning rapture enflamed in thoughts and emotions, there is little persuasion left to me made by the album. Though the second of the pair alone makes the final convincing with its epidemic of majesty sealing the deal, it is a combined effort of the whole album which declares the witnessing of and the deep rooted recognition of the appearance of an emerging force in metal.
Closing songs Firewield, another just terrific unbridled caustic rub on the ear, Lightning with a frazzling waspish insurgent demand, and the closing thrash bearing Vortez, complete an immense and intensely inventive album. Spellbook is exceptional with only one negative to offer which is the electronic drums. Admittedly the album ensures it is a minor niggle, the expertise and excellence of everything else pulling any shortcomings from obvious view but there are moments with focus where you feel a live drummer would have found another richness and depth to a track. Haiduk has produced a dream of an album though and one which is sure to ignite the appetite of extreme metal fans of any of the genres employed and enhanced by the release.
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