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Arzhaabat – In Veligrad Shadows

arzhaabat – in veligrad shadows


After a demo and a single, both released on cassette tape in early 2023, the prolific MBN (or Vaérmiyr), who is also known for Blau Blut, Svor, CEP and the great Chevallier Skrog among many others, returned with a full-length album with Arzhaabat. While MBN is definitely not someone who is likely to be sitting still for a long period of time, maybe not all of his musical endeavours are equally essential, yet, Arzhaabat has been amongst my favourite of his many bands and projects.

The preceding single (also released through his own Cosmic Cause Productions label, which followed-up the great Pant Y Meddygon imprint) already gave away a bit of what was to be expected of this first full-length album. While most of his work is rather short in terms of playing time, ‘In Veligrad Shadows’ is a hefty work of almost 50 minutes. It tells the story of the battle at Veligrad, a battle that evolves around the city of Veligrad that was once the capitol of the Moravian empire. The fact that the exact location of Veligrad has never been conclusively proven adds to the mythical character of the stories of the battle. And those legendary tales also add to the atmosphere in the music presented on this tape-only release.

Albeit a bit long, the album tells its story along blasting speed, repetitive melodies and impelling bass lines. Not all too far removed from what we could consider typical Finnish Black Metal. It shares a bit of the same intensity in the sharp-toned guitar and the organic yet sometimes also slightly contrarian riffing. That riffing is what most of the music of ‘In Veligrad Shadows’ evolves around and their dynamic character is what makes Arzhaabat such a unique entity. Take the second song of the album for instance, ‘The Pillars Of The Eternal Kingdom’, that has both such a natural flowing melody with which it starts off and the uncomfortable feeling contrarian riffing that it ends with. Yet always the music feels authentic and has a deep rooted medieval ambiance with even a genuine Folky touch.

It is MBN’s vocal delivery that further adds to the heroic and grandiose nature. From the rather standard Black Metal shriek to the almost growling and yelling which reflects the gruesome and painful side of a battlefield. Sometimes he creeps awfully close up to Bathory on its transitional records from around the 1990’s. Yet it is not only the shouting that resembles Quorthon’s typical vocal style, also the more melodic humming in the background adds to this true Bathory-inspired Pagan-feel of the music, check out the ‘Pilgrim’-song for example.

For sure, ‘In Veligrad Shadows’ is a worthy follow-up to the ‘Forest Tribes Triumphant’ demo tape from March 2023. Like always with anything that MBN does, we have to wait and see what he comes up with, he does not only seem to be a bit of a jack of all trades, he also just seems to impulsively do what comes up to him. But, I would just hope that this album will get a follow-up within a reasonable amount of time, and, maybe even more important, ‘In Veligrad Shadows’ does deserve a proper release instead of this tape-only release in just 25 copies.


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