Magic, sorcery and witchcraft are certainly not a new theme in metal of any sorts. They have provided lyrical and musical themes for bands since Heavy Metal was ‘invented’. So these days, soon after the first Heavy Metal album (Black Sabbath’s self titled debut) celebrated its 50th birthday, it’s quite difficult to use the same themes which were used in the beginning and still not be getting lost in the vast cauldron of bands doing the same. Presenting local history of the subjects is an interesting way to go and in this case, it actually works.
Standing in the crossroads between first wave of Black Metal and Heavy Metal, Slovak band Malokarpatan have proven several times they are a creative force not to be reckoned with. With their new album “Krupinské ohne” they take us into the narratives about witches in the Krupina region in Slovakia. The history tells us the persecution of witches started there during the Inquisition (around 1506) and allegedly the last victim of persecution died in 1741. Between 1662 and 1741 at least 68 people (mostly women) were trialled on charges of witchcraft and at least 36 of them burned at the stake (either alive or after decapitation).
To present the vivid, almost theatrical concept behind the album (and since all the lyrics are written in Slovak) the band starts off with an epic synth intro, which builds the cinematic momentum carried throughout the albums five songs. The synths are also used in interludes, to bring out a more psychedelic feel and are creatively combined with heavy melodic riffing, galloping leads and very distorted, grim Black Metal screams. So even if you don’t understand a single Slovak word, you’ll get the feeling what’s going on with the quality songwriting and notable mood changes within the lengthy songs.
It actually seems a lot of people expected something different from Malokarpatan this time and most of them were pointing at their previous EP “Cesta podzemnými sálami Kovovlada” and it’s notable more atmospheric direction, but so far Malokarpatan have proven several times each one of their albums is a work on its own – their debut “Stridžie dni” was almost a typical Black Metal album, while their sophomore “Nordkarpatenland” carried a strong ‘new wave of British Heavy Metal’ feel, occasionally intersected with Black Metal and sometimes even folk. This is a band that’s constantly evolving, trying out different combinations of musical genres they could add to their own sound of Black Metal. One of those bands you never know what exactly you should expect from, you just know they’ll make it good. (Black Mary)