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Крошка Нетопырь и Малыш Мёртвая Голова – Волшебные рассказы о былом [Demo / Re-Release]

Крошка Нетопырь и Малыш Мёртвая Голова – Волшебные рассказы о былом [demo / re-release]


Крошка Нетопырь и малыш Мёртвая Голова’s debut recording was initially released by Nithstang Productions in December 2021, followed by re-releases including a version by Obscurant Visions. Well, the band’s name Kroshka Netopyr’ i Malysh Myortvaya Golova is usually translated from Russian as “Little Bat and Kid Dead Head”, although a more accurate translation is “Little Pipistrellus and Kid Death’s-Head Hawkmoth”, while the album is called “Fairy Tales about the Past and the Chimerical” or alternatively “The Wonderful Stories of What-Happened and What-Happened-Though-It-Could-Not-Happen”. Anyway, taking heed that Little Bat and Kid Dead Head are part of the Pleskau Brethren Circle, which unites a great many bands, apparently formed by the same people (yep, in the 90s it would certainly be called a Black Metal Mafia), technically ‘Fairy Tales’ are not really a debut.

This album (well, or demo) immediately strikes with a horrendous sound, heavily overloaded and “ragged”. Well, as it should be in Raw Black Metal. Most often you get such a production when, having a raw recording sound from the beginning, you do not turn off or properly tune compression or limiter plugins. Something like that. Most likely, this is just such a case, i. e. this is a lo-fi production on the home PC. Well, you know, if the same people have many, many projects with murky production, then most likely they record their music at home on a computer, and not in a professional studio at all, so ‘Fairy Tales’ were plainly recorded on a computer too.

There’s no denying, some black metal records of the 90s sound exactly the same as ‘Fairy Tales’. But that was, so to speak, a natural production: the recording was either made in makeshift basement/attic/garage conditions and then digitized, or the sound engineers (of low-cost MIDI studios as usual) did not know exactly how to work with Black Metal. While the dirty and raw production on ‘Fairy Tales’ with a high degree of probability was done purposefully, even forcibly. Therefore, strictly speaking, it is not a raw production/Raw Black Metal of naive true believers, but quasi-raw production/quasi-Raw Black Metal of cold-blooded computer techs. We’re not saying it’s bad. It’s not the 90s now: new technologies mean new music. But you must understand and accept the difference.

The definition of quasi-raw black metal is the best fit for ‘Fairy Tales’ even from a musical point of view, because de-facto we are dealing with Atmospheric Black Metal. Already in the first ‘Valday Bells and Flowers of Madness’ we hear tremolo-picked riffs exactly in an Atmospheric Black Metal tradition. It is interesting that the tremolo picking lead line can be made out very clearly, the “ragged” rhythm does not interfere with it – moreover, this “raggedness” is consistent with the melodic line. So the sound engineering “schtick” with invasive compression can even be considered a musical/artistic find. Yes, there is something in this: to recognize/decipher melody behind compression-generated gurgling and crackling. It’s like if you put an Ambient piece on a Power Electronics one and listen to this Ambient piece overcoming discomfort. In addition, by the way, you can kill the second bird too: it is easy to hide any kind of drum-machine behind such a dirty mess – yes, we think that a drum-machine or even MIDI drums are used here.

Oh yes, (true) Raw Black Metal is supposed to be harsh and violent, that’s right. However, melodism is contraindicated for this genre. While ‘Fairy Tales’ are full of beautiful piercing and poignant melodies, sometimes on the verge of sugariness. In addition, Little Bat and Kid Dead Head often adopt the method of simply repeating the same riff endlessly. Let’s not forget about the minimalistic well-camouflaged keyboards which enhance the absurd atmosphere of this quasi-anti-atmospherity. So this is exactly Atmospheric Black Metal served with the sauce of Raw Black Metal. While the vocals, right, we don’t deny that the harsh and grating vocals correspond to the values of Raw Black Metal.

Unlike the first song, which contains a decent amount of blast beats, the second ‘Kalina Red and White Power’ (well, by kalina red is meant a Soviet song of the same name, or ‘The Red Snowball Tree’, a 1974 Soviet drama film by Vasily Shukshin, or the European cranberry bush (Viburnum opulus) itself, who knows; as for white power, ups, ahem, well, we do not think that this term has anything to do with xenophobia, most likely it is some kind of allegory, okey, a provocative allegory) could even be called epic, that is to say, also atmospheric. Yes, except for the horrible sound. This is some shitified Mgła, sorry. Seriously. The same well hidden Atmospheric Black Metal approach can be found in the third ‘Führer’s Antarctic Awakening’. Yep, the title of this song is even more provocative, but we are not sure about the seriousness of Little Bat and Kid Dead Head for this “conspiracy theory”, rather it is just mocking. Ah, we do not whitewash this band at all, we are sure that there is no ideology in their lyrics because there can be no ideology in artistic parody. Right, from the standpoint of Orthodox Black Metal, this is more like a parody.

By the way, old schoolness can also be recognized on ‘Fairy Tales’: if you listen attentively to the mid-paced riffs, they generate nothing more than atmospheric epicism (and magniloquence sometimes) according to the patterns of Graveland, Summoning, Cultus. An early Graveland influence (more precisely, not an influence, but just a legacy, because in our experience it is far from certain that Little Bat and Kid Dead Head are familiar with the classics of the genre) can be traced best of all at the beginning of the fifth ‘Kusva’ (Kusva is the name of a village in the Pskov Oblast/Pskov region, it is not far from the band’s hometown Pskov). Well, if only the melody is much more piercing and, umph, maudlin, but the structure is the same. Only the fourth ‘The Celestial Rose Petals Tea’ of all the songs is perceived as a non-black metal-ish piece, otherwise the entire material is almost Atmospheric Black Metal to the core.

However, as is easy to hear, Little Bat and Kid Dead Head do not abuse reverb contrary to the traditions of Atmospheric Black Metal. This is understandable: the use of reverb would create a total unintelligible mess with such an overloaded sound. Sometimes they use a flanger, and although it adds some “quacking” to gurgling and crackling already in place, it is weirdly consistent with the music again. Yes, despite the illusion of muddiness, these guys took a fundamental approach to the mixing.

And it should be noted that their music is quite diverse. As a rule, the tempo changes several times in the piece, often a classic for Black Metal mid-tempo syncopated rhythm is used, generating the punkish attitude that typifies Raw Black Metal. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often. In terms of riffs the matter is not limited to tremolo picking melody lines alone: starting from the first song guitar picking is also widely used. A couple of times you can even hear palm muting, pay attention to ‘The Celestial Rose Petals Tea’ and ‘Kusva’ – it merits saying, a rather unexpected maneuver for such music.

Summary. We would not define ‘Fairy Tales’ as VKBM (VKontakte Black Metal – music of such quality as ‘Fairy Tales’ is often called that way in Russia, since it is distributed mainly through this social network), here the compositions are really thought out both in terms of music and production. For sure these guys know what they’re doing. Undoubtedly, this extraordinary release will become an adornment of your vinyl collection. We just urge you not to be a pushover for the alleged novelty of this work – this is just a time-tested material in a new package. If ‘Fairy Tales’ had been released with a high quality production without provocative compression and especially under some more canonical for Black Metal name, this album would have been lost among the huge number of modern Black Metal releases.

Крошка Нетопырь и Малыш Мёртвая Голова

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