CREEDamage, the new album from Ukrainian ambient/folk pagan metal band Munruthel, is a striking aural portrait of atmospheric and startling worlds and times rife with passion and shadows. It is also a release which is as richly compelling as it is eagerly challenging, an engagement which thrills and inspires with immense creativity and imagination. It is arguably at times not the most open of folk metal releases due to its intent to transports ear, senses, and mind of the listener to a primal and rabid land/history, but without doubt it is one of the most pleasing and rewarding genre albums this year.
Munruthel is the solo project of Vladislav Redkin, an artist who is highly regarded in Ukrainian metal through his work over the years. Starting as the band Silentium, who’s 1995 demo, The Ancients’ Wisdom drew great acclaim, the group name was changed to Munruthel for the following release Yav, Nav i Prav two years later. Following albums such as Oriana Tales and Epoch of Aquarius, the band continued to brew greater success as the project became the sole enterprise of Redkin. His work with numerous other bands such as Nokturnal Mortum, Astrofaes, Lucifugum, Thunderkraft, Amber Solstice, and Neverland to name a few has elevated his stature though it is with Munruthel for many where he has earned the greatest plaudits. With from 2010 the re-release of the earlier albums and the 2011 album The Dark Saga – Original Soundtrack, Munruthel has become a name gaining strong awareness around the metal world which CREEDamage with its impressive soundscapes and invention, will only accelerate.
Out on Svarga Music, the new album is the result of seven years of work by Redkin and unveils an expansive realm of sympho pagan metal through enlightening and consuming emotive soundscapes. With the addition of the mighty tones of guest vocalist Maria “Masha Scream” Arkhipova of Arkona, as well as Forfather vocalist Wulfstan, the album links back to previous releases in topic, like love for Mother Nature through beliefs, and sound but explores much more new adventure with craft and vision. The shifts and merger of ambient majesty and atmospheric washes to charged and energetic sinews is impeccable and seamless as well as at times unexpected, which only goes to make the release refreshing and imaginative.
The sense of something special is seeded immediately with the opening instrumental Ardent Dance of War’s God. The piece is wholly inspiring, its dramatic and rising emotive atmosphere a leviathan of titanic energy, expression, and imagery. In many ways the album does not live up to its entrance, in the same way that the first time you see a colossal sight or beauty it takes your breath away and the following still overwhelming magnificence has a slight familiarity and anti-climax from there on in. CREEDamage is a mighty journey though, the following Rolls of Thunder from Fiery Skies with its mesmeric warm wraps of keys and rasping vocals a two prong corruption to light thoughts and passion. With the as always striking voice of Masha adding its wonder to the insidious shadows within the heated climes, the track is an impactful confrontation to greedily devour.
The evolving breath of the title track tells as much as the storms of emotion and intensity elsewhere. From a spoken narrative to the pumped yet respectful gait smouldering scenery and the pulsating yet intimidating ambience, the song captures the imagination. The vocals may be in native tongue but their texture within the wall of expressive sounds tells you all you need to know to trigger unique journeys and imagery. As with many of the tracks its cinematic breath is an evocative power to rival the impressive sounds to energise the senses.
In an album which is perpetually sparking pleasure and evocative reactions, further highlights come with firstly The Age of Heroes, a track transporting one into a place of solitude and desolate feelings as reflective whispers and chilled grace caress with barren warmth. Its great depth and effect is matched by Carpathian’s Shield, the song a continually shifting and provoking dedication to Mikhail Nechay, a martyred white magician and faith healer, and the three part epic instrumental Krada, its trio of elements a full path of discovery alone on the album.
CREEDamage has been long awaited by a great many and with ease satisfies and feeds all expectations with the best work from Munruthel yet.
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