Having recently devoured an EP featuring four of their fan’s favourite tracks, there could only be one next port of call and that was the self-titled debut album from Ukrainian metallers Vovkulaka. If that introduction to the band impressed and excited then we can only say that this twelve track release had us lusting for the striking sounds and rousing songs it held.
Emerging in 20914, Vovkulaka (Ukrainian for werewolf) is primarily the solo project of Odessa based vocalist/drummer/songwriter VolK but an adventure also featuring members from Bulgaria and the United States with Stone of metallers Contortion providing guitar and its stage line-up up completed by dancers and percussionists Naya G and JuleZ, and guitarist Ivan Manoloff. Vovkulaka creates a voracious sound bred in the heart of industrial and nu metal but one embracing a host of other flavours such as gothic metal and dubstep. Like a fusion of Fear Factory, Korn, Slipknot, Society 1, Type O Negative and Rob Zombie it grips attention but with an individuality which ensures it boldly stands out from anything else. Lyrically VolK’s inspiration and invention finds its seeds in his passion for ghost hunting and the paranormal experiences found as well as more personal issues; shadows and darkness sought and embraced to immerse the listener in the most compelling encounters.
Produced by Darian Rundall (Pennywise, Suicidal Tendencies, Yellowcard), the album immediately had the senses and psyche hooked with its opener, Summon The Demon. The brief track is a rhythmic calling, VolK revealing his percussive skill and manipulation as carnivorously haunting beats conjure an atmosphere from darker realms. It may barely be a bidding escaping a minute but proves an irresistible invitation leading to the equally ravening haunting of Cemetery Voices. Crawling over ears and senses, the track is a heavy but compelling trespass but one already a lively threat through the skittish percussion of VolK around his rapaciously slow vocal drawl. The similarly sinister lures of guitar and electronics only add to the captivation quickly bred, the track a sign if mere hint of things to come.
Darkness Calling follows with again a rhythmic tempting which burrowed under the skin. Electronic fingering and the sonic courting of guitar brings shadows and ears together, the Korn-esque flames of the latter lighting up the earthier but no less infectious declaration from VolK’s voice. The track is superb, its senses grinding grooves and dubstep throbbing swift addiction and quickly matched in potency by the even more esurient intent and drama of My Devil. Keys gently entice with a crepuscular sheen before the track erupts in another ravenous incitement, again psyche burrowing grooves leading the way as raptorial rhythms pounce. The contrast of crystalline electronics and musical predation simply gripped attention, all the while rhythms jabbing and stalking with manipulative animation as gut bred vocals magnetically nagged; a dubstep solo from DJ Gigantor from the band Evol Intent extra creative flesh to feast upon.
Emerging from a calm if again minatory caress Defy enslaved ears in its tenebrous realm; defiance and decay embroiled at the heart of its visceral grumble as it wormed deeper and deeper under the skin through raw-boned but rich grooves and provocatively niggling rhythms. With Volk’s cadaverous vocals ever enthralling, the track easily gripped and inspired the imagination before Priest Hole unleashed its own addictive fall from grace. VolK’s rhythms alone ruptured attention, their deeply probing bait aligned to scurrilous but rousing grooves and the illuminated eeriness of keys. The track quickly made a stake for best track acclaim though quickly challenged by the decayed and vicious malevolence of Death Ground. Nefarious grooves wind around ears as corrupt rhythms surround sinful vocals, the result one glorious ungodly delight.
The band’s acclaimed first single is next, Glory To The Heroes a track breaching ears and keen support across the globe with its release in 2018. Featuring Keith Lynch (Bill Ward Band, Ozzy Osbourne) on guitar and dedicated to Ukrainian soldier Nadiya Savchenko who was jailed in Russia but released in May 2016, the track quickly revealed why it made such a strong impact before, savage riffs and punishing rhythms perfectly set against light shimmering keys and melodic seduction as Fear Factory meets Pitchshifter like industrial discontent corrupts the air.
As the contagious venom and dexterity of Whispered Lies seduced as it invaded and Purple Door writhed and crawled into body and psyche with flesh-eating grooves across bone resonating percussion, the album shared further aspects to the Vovkulaka darkness and sound. The latter is something akin to Korn being violated by Godflesh as angels caress the carcass while The Dark Empty chews on the listener’s emotional flesh with rabid jaws coaxed by feral grooves and maniacal rhythms as VolK’s vocals again direct the rich pleasure.
The album closes with a metal version of the Ukrainian National Anthem though the CD also offers a couple of bonus tracks in a drum solo enhanced Darkness Calling and an instrumental version of Defy.
Vovkulaka is a band which should, if any of the references we suggested to their unique presence appeals, no must, be checked out but be warned such their debut album’s dark triumph there will be no turning back.
The Vovkulaka album is available now across most online stores.
Pete RingMaster 15/03/2020
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