Morguenstern – Sepulchral Burden

Sepulchral Burden

     Embracing the senses in a gothic caress of engagingly elegant shadows and rapaciously honed enterprise, Sepulchral Burden the debut album from Russian metallers Morguenstern is a potent capturing of the imagination which unerringly lures you deeper into its provocative depths the more you entertain its dark temptations. Seemingly tagged more often as a horror-punk/gothic metal like proposition, the inventive quintet definitely upon their new release explore the latter of the flavours, an eighties breath as rich as the sonic colour and uncompromising undercurrent of intimidation which prowling each and every song. The album is a riveting fascination of Poe-esque drama and fiery metal passion wrapped in mouthwatering weaves of guitar and keys adventure led by acutely seductive vocals.

     Formed in 1999 by Morgana (vocals, keys, music and lyrics) aided by her brother Morok (guitar, back vocals) of Bog-Morok, Shexna, Downgrade, and Vo Skorbyah, Morguenstern recorded the demo Blood that same year before expanding with the addition of drummer Dan Sobolev (ex-Bog-Morok, ex- OPRICH ) and bassist Alexei Fominsky (ex-Bog-Morok, ex- Smuta) in 2000. After playing many successful shows the project was suspended in 2001 but now returns in striking form with the GlobMetal Records released Sepulchral Burden. Consisting of bassist Penguin and drummer Vladimir alongside Morgana and Morok with Smeat providing samples and backing vocals, the band unleashes tales of zombies, vampires, and cemeteries in a release which certainly wakes up the imagination.

   We will get the main niggle about the album out of the way before entering its body, and that is the fact that the lyrical delivery comes solely in Russian, not normally a problem but with tracks full of aural intrigue and adventure, being unable to enjoy that aspect due to limited linguistic skills does frustrate throughout. Nevertheless the album easily steals attention and breeds an eager appetite for its suggestive climate starting with С Новым Гробом (Happy New Coffin). A gothic organ makes the first incitement on the ears soon joined by a cinematic sample and an increasingly darkening ambience. It is a menacing coaxing which increases its threat until the song spreads into a radiant stretch of keys led melodic expression, thumping rhythms and caustic guitar strokes soaked and guided by the immediately enticing tones of Morgana. An increasingly contagious potency also flows from within the encounter, toying with electro invention and intense metallic urges within a gothic metal narrative. It all combines for a powerful and immensely persuasive start to the release.

      That success is matched by the following Мертвый Храм (The Dead Temple) and Идём со мной (Come With Me), the first teasing ears with an eighties gothic pop dance within a cauldron of aggressive yet restrained predatory metal. Not for the last time on the album, the track sparks up thoughts of March Violets with its vocals and melody drenched shadows but just as strongly forges a distinct presence for itself which marks Morguenstern as different. The second of the two almost stalks the senses in its beauty, malevolence, and irresistible seduction whilst like its predecessor, fusing harsh and caustic aggression aligned to the equally intensive vocals of Morok with a bewitching melodic climate for an impressive and fluid union, the resulting web if sound incendiary for the imagination.

    Another big aspect of the album is the variety brought into the songs under the constant gothic cloak, next up Тяжесть Могильная (Sepulchral Burden) for example exploring heavier mausoleum like atmospheres compared to the more intensive night aired sceneries of earlier songs, and though the melodic and heavy metal lilted track does not emulate the heights of those songs, it offers a refreshing twist in the melodrama of the album’s theme. Both the sultrily tempting Соната (Sonata) and the moonlight radiant Последний Путь (The Last Journey) provide further adventurous sounds and endeavour, the mesmeric vocals of Morgana washing around the senses as infectiously as the electronic and electrified enterprise courting her almost siren like tempting. The pair are like atmospheric magnets on thoughts and emotions, both increasing the undeniable lure of Sepulchral Burden.

     Кровь (Blood) is the next highlight to dramatically seize a rapturous response, its carnivorous voice of riffs and bass snarling imperiously away within the vampiric radiance of the keys and the suggestively masked lyrical suasion. It is a masterful platform for the imagination to play upon even without the aid of understanding its words, painting an evocative and colourful realm for thoughts to devour and expand within. That is a trait you can attribute to all songs to be fair with an even greater mastery to be found in the next up До Свидания (Farewell) with its sonically poetic jeopardy and the vampire heralding Нечеловек (Inhuman). The second of the two sculpts a merger of almost punk bred metal and sonic savagery tempered by the ever crystalline tones of Morgana magnificent creating another pinnacle on the album.

    The quality and evolving might of the album continues through the likes of Came from Ад (Came from Hell), a track like a few to be fair which could soundtrack any classical gothic and noir driven horror movie, the tantalising Пустые Глазницы (Empty Eyesockets) where the melodic and piano sculpted resplendence comes with a haunted voice, and the brilliant electro driven Morguenstern with its glorious Middle Eastern adventure and uncompromising antagonistic predation. All three leave ears and passions with a healthy want for more which the closing Отдай Свой Разум (Give Away Your Mind) supplies in a final ravaging of air and sound, its gothic landscape ripe with exhausting energy and mischievous rabidity to create a last great twist in the album’s invention with male vocal furies leading the towering charge.

    It is an outstanding end to an equally tremendous release which just grows over each subsequent journey through its exciting dangers for increasing success. Featuring guest vocals from Alex Raymar (Desert), Sam (Enemy Pain), Nybras (Iconoclast), Sherman (Bog-Morok and Shexna), and Dirty Scoundrel (Ministry of Truth), it is only the mystery of the lyrical content with provides any ‘annoyance’ on Sepulchral Burden, the album an expansive and immersive gothic romance of terror within which Morguenstern offers very tempting rewards.

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8.5/10

RingMaster 20/02/2014

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Oprich, Piarevaracien, Chur – Triunity

Triunity is the coming together of three Slavonic bands to contribute to a conceptual project to express historical solidarity of their Slavonic nations and kinship of cultural roots. The split album sees Russian band Oprich, Belarusian band Piarevaracien, and Chur from the Ukraine, offering a trio of songs each of Slavonic pagan/folk metal showing the unique features of their national heritage.

Released by Casus Belli Musica of Russia as a limited edition hand-numbered collection CD, the album is a strong and enjoyable release which without lighting strong passions still makes for some decent and rewarding sounds. The three bands are strongly established in their homelands and their promo claims in folk metal worldwide, though one feels as with us that this release will be an introduction to a great many to the bands. It is a strong introduction though with the bands sure to find further followers to their accomplished sounds. Though none of the three bands bring groundbreaking or jaw dropping moments to the album all nine songs leave good and satisfying impressions.

Oprich are first up with their stirring blend of brawling metal energy and mesmeric flute enterprise. Formed in 1998 the band with their dual vocal approach and the flute enchantment has gathered great acclaim through 2005 mini album split Wolfen Loyalty with Ukrainians Kroda and debut album North The Boundless as well as their live performances. Their opening track Up The Rivers Of The North immediately stirs the passions with its attacking riffage and infectious flute beckoning. The song storms with a torrent of artillery like riffs and impactful rhythms, the energy of the song persistently inciteful and the melodic elements fully enticing. Though at times the metal side and folk side feel like two distinct and unconnected elements they lay side by side with ease with the band making them work perfectly. Arguably the best song on the release it is musically anthemic and infectious whilst the vocals without being anything special do a good job, even better as combined group harmonies.

The following songs The Volga and the excellent North The Boundless do not quite live up to their predecessor but bring enough strongly crafted sounds and invention to make Oprich a band to investigate further. Musically they are impressive with only the vocals the less striking element but their metal sounds are easily accessible, enjoyable, and at times bordering glorious.

Mensk band Piarevaracien also use a pipe sound in their music though overall they are less metal driven. As with their companions on the release their songs are sung in their native language which always seems to add something extra for us. Formed in 2006 the band found strong success with their albums Торны шлях (pronounced as Torny shliach) of 2008 and Spoviedž Kryvi in 2011, both receiving re-releases, the latter as an English sung version. Their triplet of songs My Autumn, Morning, and Ashes, have a gentler and less intense presence than from Oprich. Each has a folk core which through the pipes floats through the air with a warmth and ambient glow whilst the guitars stroke the senses with a tender and caring touch. The standout song is My Autumn though all again leaves one satisfied if not openly inspired.

Completing the line-up is Chur from Kherson another band formed in the mid 2000’s. They lie somewhere between the previous two artists, their folk metal offered with a firmer energy and directness than from Piarevaracien but with an immersive melodic atmosphere and ethnic sound to be less aggressive than Oprich, though their second track Over The River, Through The Woods (A Swallow Flew) is a feisty charge which lights the senses with its eagerness and air bristling energy. A guitar and keys driven band, Chur are quite skilled at creating emotive atmospheres and expressive hearts to their songs as shown by the mentioned song which rivals for best on the album, and their other two, There On The Mountain and O The Spring Is In A Field. Their releases to date such as albums Brate Vitre (2006) and Lykho (2009) have all brought good acclaim their way and going by the songs on this release it is no surprise. Again as with all the bands to be honest vocally they take a little adjusting too with the twin or group harmonies outshining the solo deliveries but it is never enough to really detract from the songs.

Triunity is a good release to introduce three strong bands to further world ears even in its limited form. It does not set new standards but neither gives anything less than pleasure which is all one really asks.

RingMaster 01/07/2012.

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