The recently resurrected Doomentia Records returns with a few new records. The label started with the reissue of Fata Morgana’s ‘Kremace Dábla’ demo from 1992 (with great artwork from Rok). Next up is the reissue of the first Solothus album and this new EP by one of Czechia’s most revered Black Metal bands of the last couple of years, Cult Of Fire. It is presented on a one-sided 7” EP that has a cover of Maniac Butcher’s ‘Píseň Černých Vran’, which originally appeared on the band’s 1997 ‘Barbarians’ album (Pussy God Records). A song that has been recorded about a year ago as a tribute to Vlad Blasphemer, who passed away in 2015 and marking the definite end of Maniac Butcher.
The tradition of extreme metal in Czechia is, like many other countries with a similar niche-like sound, rather intriguing. A small amount of bands were set out to forge quite a unique and distinctly recognizable sound, although putting together a unique sound was not necessarily the aim, due to the limited sources of inspiration from that time (no internet) and influences from local culture, that was unmistakably the result. The underground scene of Czechia (and former Czechoslovakia, for that matter) spawned many great bands, from the very start of such bands as Törr, Avenger, Kryptor and Debustrol the country’s metal foundation can be considered very solid.
It was therefore only a matter of time before some new kids on the block would arrive to push things into the more extreme. First up with such bands as Root and Master’s Hammer but later on one of the more notorious bands of the Czech Black Meta scene would appear: Maniac Butcher. Though already founded in 1992 the band would come to some sort of cult status by the end of the 90’s and especially at the early start of the new millennium when the ultimate cult label at the time, Sombre Records, opted for the vinyl issues of the band’s first albums in 2001.
Like many bands of that period, we’re still talking late 90’s and early 00’s, Maniac Butcher had a great and recognizable sound. Though massively built on the early Norwegian Black Metal bands and, of course, Bathory. Not at all as creative or talented as Satyricon, Emperor or later Bathory, the music of Maniac Butcher is beautiful in its simplicity. What they do have in common, however, is their sense of atmosphere. A sublime example of that is the chosen track for this one-sided cover 7” EP. ‘Píseň Černých Vran’ is a monumental illustration of how Black Metal sounded during those magical years, roughly between 1995 and 2005.
A tasteful blend of sharp edged riffs and a really moody guitar sound, which is woven together in a wonderful great and dynamic song, offering much diversity in terms of riffs and tempo changes. As with most covers, it is almost impossible to reach the ambiance of the original, due to the fact that covers usually are recorded many years later and recording circumstances are always different. Despite this version is a bit more on the speedy side and lacks that 90’s atmosphere, Cult Of Fire’s take on the track, however, is quite close to Maniac Butcher’s original. Cult Of Fire usually has quite a creative and bombastic sort of Black Metal, but that is omitted almost completely. So, no grand melodic sections or other innovative bursts this time. In fact, it would simply also make sense if the band deliberately chose to stay close to the original to pay tribute to Vlad Blasphemer.
The music on offer might be a little marginal, as it is only one track, which is also a cover song. Especially if you also take the rather steep price in consideration, which is something that is increasingly seen these days, mostly due to the higher prices at the vinyl pressing plants. However, in the right Doomentia Records tradition, the product looks outstanding and, although the label has been on a hiatus for a good couple of years, their trademark quality has not suffered from it.