At the turn of the 80’s, the Hungarian band Tormentor recorded a legendary demo entitled `Anno Domini’. The recording would end up influencing young souls far beyond the borders of Hungary to inspire what would soon be known as the second wave of Black Metal. Although the Hungarian Black Metal scene has produced bands such as Sear Bliss, Thy Catafalque and Tymah, it has remained relatively modest. Still, the legacy of Tormentor continues to inspire people like Tibor Terebesi, who previously recorded material with Aornos, Velm and Mabthera. In the newly formed one-man project Denevér, which translates to bat, he channelled his fascination for Black Metal, vampirism and a bloody Hungarian tale.
With track titles such as `A Vámpírok Korszaka’ (`Age of Vampires’), `Átváltoztatás – Vámpír Vér’(`Transformation – Vampire Blood’), `Éjjel az Erdőben’ (`Night in the Forest’) and off course the album title, `Vampir’ (`Vampire’), the theme of the Denevér debut is crystal clear. The fascination with bloody tales is further accentuated by the album’s centrepiece, `Báthory Erzsébet’. This story revolves around countess Elizabeth Bathory (note that in traditional Hungarian the surname is written before the first name), the infamous Hungarian blood countess that has inspired many horror movies and Metal songs. The accounts of her bathing in virgin blood to retain her youth have led to the belief that she is the most prolific female serial killer in history, and allegedly her tale was a massive influence on Bram Stoker when he wrote the mother of all vampire stories, Dracula. Within the Black Metal community, of course one of the most influential bands was literally called after her: Bathory. In addition, her story was used as inspiration for a Cradle of Filth record and much earlier by Tormentor, who recorded the track `Elizabeth Bathory’ that appears on `Anno Domini’. Denevér uses this piece of Hungarian heritage and pays homage to the classic track by using a sample of the famous spoken intro from the Tormentor song at the very beginning of `Báthory Erzsébet’. And paying homage to Tormentor is a pretty accurate description of the music on `Vámpír’.
The influence of Tormentor is especially clear in the trashier riffs that can be found across pretty much the entire record besides the ambient tracks that are used as interludes. However, the musical sound of Denevér leans on Norwegian Black Metal as well, and in particular acts like Darkthrone and Gorgoroth. Fittingly, the vocals are raspy and the guitar sound is raw and shrill, except for the melodic solos provided by Csaba Tátrai, Tibor Terebesi’s bandmate in Aornos. The programmed drums sound somewhat mechanic, but it hasn’t bothered me for one second and they fit well within the entire sound. These drums are typically fast, which nicely contrasts the large variety in Black Metal riffs and tempos. As previously mentioned, there are some sporadic creepy ambient interludes, that fit well with the classic vampire movie theme. Denevér wears its classical influences proudly on its sleeve anyway, most obviously by featuring Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in closing track `A Vég’ (`The End’) and an interpretation of Joseph Hayden’s `Lestat’s Theme’ from the movie `Interview with a Vampire’ in `A Kezdet’ (`The Beginning’). And I’m almost certain there is a rendition of a folk or classical music piece that inspired a melodic section at minute 4:10-4:55 of `Báthory Erzsébet’. Despite quite some effort I just couldn’t find the original, so maybe it’s a Denevér original after all.
It’s one thing to pay tribute to your heroes and inspirations, but in the case of Denevér it’s all done extremely well. The record is raw, diverse, has catchy melodies and carries a great atmosphere throughout. For now the album is only out on CD, but I truly hope it will see its way to vinyl sooner or later. `Vámpír’ is an excellent homage to traditions, to classic tales of blood and vampires, to Black Metal and to the mighty Tormentor. (VincentP)