Review Summary: More kvlt, underground Eastern European black metal for the able bodied elites.
Roman Saenko. The Ukranian multi instrumentalist known predominantly for his folky atmospheric black metal project Drudkh has a few other musical occupations that deserve some honorable mention. Since Drudkh is poised to release their new album Microcosmos in less than a week, now seems like a greater time than any to cover his musical territory. Firstly there was Hate Forest, the long running (1994-2005) furious black metal unit that polarized the usage of thinly veiled production. Emitting buzz like reverberations and a compressed and airtight environment, there really wasn’t much room for any instrument to stand out besides emotionless, piercing riffage and agonizing growls. Dark Ages was a minimalist one man dark ambient project utilizing simplistic melodies and drawn out segments to feed off atmosphere. Then there’s the project Blood Of Kingu, the project that I’ve chosen to write about first. Much like Dark Ages, Roman Saenko is the sole member/songwriter/musician. Unlike Dark Ages though, Blood Of Kingu is a stimulating black metal project.
The name Blood of Kingu is derived from the Babylonian god Kingu who would later go on and be slain by another Babylonian god named Marduk therefore allowing his blood to be used to create mankind. An interesting concept for sure. Themes of Sumerian culture continue run amok through Blood Of Kingu’s debut full length record De Occulta Philosophia. A far cry of Drudkh’s typical usage of Ukranian poetry. Much like Roman’s preceding bands, Blood Of Kingu incorporate the same fuzzy atmosphere, droning repetition, and barometrical melodies. Drudkh’s penchant for Slavic folk elements and Hate Forest’s one dimensional songwriting are nowhere to be found. Instead Roman opts for a more melodic yet still quite raw black metal approach with an emphasis towards creative guitar playing and extended instrumental passages.
Despite dropping the acoustic guitars, synthesizers and flutes, Drudkh’s influence still prevails in the riffing department. Perception deceives the listener into thinking he/she is listening to the former band because Blood Of Kingu share the same comprehension for creating expansive passages that challenge the listener’s will. Roman utilizes the standard black metal formula of furious tremolo picking and abrupt tempo shifts with discretely hidden melodies underneath all the fuzz yet achieve greater results than his Norwegian counterparts due to engaging riff patterns and a rare sense of catchiness.
Vocally, Roman attempts to expand beyond his repertoire of raspy, black metal growling by implementing a bellowing, shaman-esque grunt. Picture Blood Of The Black Owl’s latest release but not quite as irritating. I suppose his reasoning to incorporate was to add to the music‘s ambience. Regardless of inclusion it doesn’t really add or subtract from Blood Of Kingu’s musical nature. Mostly, Roman sticks to his traditional rasp which is always effective and quite distinguishable amongst the excesses of black metal.
On the drums is you guessed it, Roman Saenko. Composed of a hammering snare drum, crisp cymbal bashing, and breakneck double bass, Roman generally opts for one speed and one speed only. And that my friends is blitzkrieg 11/10. However he attempts to break away from the monotony by adding some tribal flair to the fourteen second “Vatjarani”. Overall, nothing exceedingly mind-blowing is displayed on De Occulat Philosophia other than the tempos at which it’s played. Roman is still a competent drummer nonetheless. Onto the bass playing. What bass? Incorporating black metal stereotype number three is kind of discouraging but when the guitars and drums completely dominate the album what’s a hollowed out bass line to do?
Overall, Blood Of Kingu doesn’t exactly compare in terms of quality and uniqueness with Roman’s main project Drudkh but what B.O.K lacks in personality is made up in fierce melodic aggression, killer riffing, and competent songwriting/musicianship. De Occulta Philosphia is a record that I recommend for the (semi) seasoned black metal pro that’s looking to expand their library. If black metal turns you off in general because of all the blatant Satan imagery and frostbitten grimness (you pussies) than this is for you. Next up…..Dub….Buk.