Title: Krupinské ohne
Label: Invictus Productions
Release Date: 20 March 2020
Format reviewed: Digital Promo
This week, as the globe is awash with chaos, I feel very fortunate to have been able to immerse myself in the latest release from MALOKARPATAN, which thankfully swept me away into a bewitching world of dark horrors and Slovakian myth and lore.
MALOKARPATAN are an exciting and unconventional heavy black metal outfit with a unique sound that has drawn influence from 1970’s progressive rock and primordial black metal vanguards such as Master’s Hammer, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Sabbat (Japan) and Bathory, to name a few. Their latest offering, “Krupinské ohne” (which translates to “The Fires of Krupina”), is the band’s third full-length release and I have to say that rarely have I been so instantly enraptured by an album, it is utterly riveting.
MALOKARPATAN have forged their sound from earlier times, which means that there are no blast beats to be found on “Krupinské ohne”, instead there are groovy drums, thick riffs, acoustic interludes, a diverse selection of unconventional instruments, and plenty of tempo changes and transitions. The production is deliciously raw and gritty which compliments the primitive style of metal on offer. “Krupinské ohne” comprises five tracks of epic length (the shortest being just shy of 7 minutes), which together with the diversity of tempo and sounds, create an exhilarating prog-esque journey. The mood and atmosphere within a single track can transition from joyous to melancholic or wistful to unnerving, which is captivating for the listener.
The band use a combination of Slovak, regional dialects and pre-19th century archaic wordplay to deliver their lyrics. Therefore, I was extremely grateful that the promotional copy that I reviewed included a transcript of the lyrics with English translations. It was only after reading this transcript that I could truly appreciate the rich narrative contained within each track. There are alluring tales of rural witchcraft, diabolical beasts, death and various vile deeds.
This album feels rustic, ambitious, a little theatrical, and quirky, but with a magical quality that succeeds in bringing Slovakian folklore to life. The striking cover art is perfectly suited to the themes of the album and was created by Matúš Ďurčík (Svjatogor), a Slovakian graphic designer. Overall, I found MALOKARPATAN ‘s masterful blending of old school metal, prog and folk elements flawless. Additionally the chronicle of traditional tales were rich, thoughtful and thoroughly engaging. As an example of what you can expect from “Krupinské ohne”, I will leave you with a passage of narration that opens the album.
“Late October sun slowly sets above the town, a strange orange gleam lingers over the bushes and shrouds the view above surrounding hills in a dolorous ambience, in which there is present also something devilish. We are entering together, our dear reader, into the region of Krupina during late 17th century. A region, where the old belief survives in secret fellowships of peasants, in which though many times an esteemed townsman is conspired under the veil of night. We thereby ask the reader for discretion, as things forbidden and explicite horrific shall be revealed to them in this history” – Malokarpatan (2020) 10/10 Proua Metallist.
10/10 : Immortal Classic
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