|Review: Nokturnal Mortum - Mirovozzrenie|
Label: No Colours Records
Year released: 2005
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: January 29, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Rated 4.17/5 (83.45%) (29 Votes)
I'll get it out of the way first up: Nokturnal Mortum are well known for their NS beliefs (especially Varggoth, whose laughably, embarrassingly bad side project Aryan Terrorism put his political views beyond doubt), so if that sort of thing gets in the road of your ability to enjoy an album then you should probably just move along. However, sucks to be you, because Mirovozzrenie is one of the best folk-laced Black Metal albums you will hear, so you will be missing out big time!
There are two versions of this album; Mirovozzrenie, the Slavic version which is all in Russian/Ukrainian, and Weltanschauung which is the English version. I have Mirovozzrenie, and it really is all Slavic, there is no English anywhere on the disc or in the booklet, so I have no idea what the songs are about or what any of the notes say. But I am not one to be overly concerned about lyrical themes with my metal, I'm in it for the music and that's what I'm reviewing here. (Actually, I did manage to track down the English lyrics, and by Satan am I glad I have this version — their lyrics are just fucking terrible, possibly due to poor translation, but damn...just awful).
So, political beliefs and lyrics aside, what we have is a slab of very folk-heavy Black Metal filled with fiddles, flutes, jaw harps, and awesome, awesome metal riffs. I am familiar with Nokturnal Mortum's previous output and this album is much heavier on the folk and much lighter on the coarse, blasting Black Metal found on NeChrist or To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire, being more in line with Goat Horns only with a stronger guitar presence. And, before I go any further, let me tell you that this disc is outrageously fucking good! The production is as close to perfect as you can expect, with every instrument clearly represented and given the necessary room to breathe, and there is a panoply of instruments here. Besides the expected guitars, drums and bass, we have flutes, violins (the sound makes me think of them as fiddles), jaw harps, bagpipes, and a slew of traditional Ukranian instruments such as sopilka, telynka (a pipe without finger holes, played by progressively covering the end with your finger) and ocarina (an egg-shaped woodwind instrument) among others. These traditional folk instruments are just everywhere, whether it is accompanying some furious epic metal riffing, or over one of the many all acoustic folk interludes, they have a huge role to play in the album.
Mirovozzrenie runs long at 73:51, but fully half of the 14 tracks are folky interludes or ambient pieces. This is really the main objection I have to this album, as a lot of these interludes are incredibly dull; the last two tracks especially are really just washy keyboard ambience that drones on and on for nearly 6 minutes. That's not to say they are all without value; "Put Bessmertnyh", the first track, is filled with the sounds of a battle field, that while cool, goes on too long, but the campfire folksiness of "Pechal Rodnyh Zemel" and the bagpipe driven "Tanec Ognya i Stali" are both really cool and add a worthwhile dynamic to the album. The six metal tracks on offer are all utterly epic tunes in both length and composition — they range from 7:40 to 12:24 in length and are full of rampaging folk and majestic, proud anthems of metal glory. These tracks are truly epic in the telling, with each of them taking you on mythic journeys through battlefields and forests, mountain ranges and drinking halls, all the while conjuring vivid images of wars and warriors and unspoiled rolling vistas. All the convincing you will need can be found in the soaring keyboards and stomping metal riffs of "Niti Sudbonosnoj Uzly" as it builds to a powerful climax before ebbing into another folky interlude, and the amazing fiddle-inspired riffs on "Slava Geroyam" which swap seamlessly with actual fiddle-driven riffs, as both tunes really set a stirring scene. The vocals are quite varied with Varggoth's dry, raspy blackened croak forming the main voice, with some deathlike growls mixed through the tracks, and while each of them are pulled off convincingly, the vocal highlight is on "Vkus Pobedy" where Varggoth intersperses his harsh vocals with some strong and honest clean vocals from guest vocalist Vasily Haschina that really sell the epic quality of the actual final track.
It's a pity that this album will be passed over by many due to the blatantly racist ideology of the band, as it is truly is a spectacular slab of epic folk-laden Black Metal that deserves to be considered a classic of the genre. For fans of Folk Metal in any form this is essential, and only misses out on a 5 because of the several worthless ambient tracks spread throughout that detract from the overall flow.
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