Review Summary: A brilliant blend of brutal death metal and traditional folk music. A debut album to be proud of.
Leshak (a relatively unknown folk/death metal and from Russia) have been given a pretty hard wrap over their debut album, Chertovorot. The bands unique way of combining traditional folk music and raging metal has been over looked by larger and more well known bands such as the likes of Finntroll and Korpiklaani. However, fans of these bands or folk metal should give this band a well deserved listen.
The bands music is centered around Russian mythology, with the aggresive and gutteral vocals blending with the folk instruments (limited to the flute and on occasion a kazoo). The lyrical content tells of the adventures of a group of rather murderess imps, which is shown by the brutal nature of the vocals (in the traditional Russian tongue). The rest of the band supports these two main elements, with raging guitar riffs, brutal drumming and a solid bassline. Lets look at a track by track review:
At Sundawn (Intro):
A calm flute line opens the album, giving a sense of peace and tranquillity but also somehow signifying oncoming chaos. Instrumentally this song is very well done, and provides a fantastic sense of foreboding of what is to come.
An epic flute line supported by an energetic guitar and bass part explodes into prominence at the beginning of the song, making the first real song of the album a powerful and memorable experience. The song then dissolves into the energetic verse, where the ferocious death growls launch in to the merry flute parts. The guitar is fast and exciting, the bass is punchy and loud and the drums pound away with the kind of feverishness you would not expect after the calm intro. The only thing that lets this epic and memorable song down is its short length (a meagre 2:38), and prevent it from developing further.
By the Paths of Leshak:
After the initial punch of the first track, the next song slows down a bit to deliver a higher impact with the vocals and flute. One of the most enjoyable songs on the album, the song has a catchy main riff which will be stuck in your head for days. The death growls again launch into the verse, as the guitar and bass support further. Midway through the song there is a short drum interlude, in which the bass launches into a rapid yet simple slap-bass solo. The guitar creeps back in again, but the bass and the guitar are soon replaced by a simple drum line accompanied by a series of eerie chants. With a rallying roll from the drums, the guitars and the ferocious death growls launch into savage prominence, blending superbly with the continued ominous chants. This unique and progressive track is easily on of the best on the album.
The viscous and fast-paced title track is easily the most brutal so far, telling of a drunken priest who is beheaded by the mischievous devils. However, this brutal and aggressive show of strength between the guitars and growled vocals does not mix as well with the traditional folk instruments as the previous tracks did. The vocals almost drown out the flute in the verses, making this song less folk and more clichéd death metal. One of the weakest tracks on the album, but still enjoyable all the same.
A slow, almost dirge like guitar riff opens this instrumental track. The guitar then dissolves into an interesting use of natural chordal harmonics, as the drums and bass speed up behind the guitar. The song eventually evolves into a nice little instrumental piece, one that is catchy and enjoyable to listen to. The bass is prominent and the guitar is loud and almost thrash-like. However, this song completely lacks any use of folk instruments. Hardly folk metal at all, but still an enjoyable (if not memorable) song.
Dark Forests are from the Land up to the Sky:
The opening riff of this song sets the track up to me much more mellow, even spiritual. The flute is now supported by the sad line of a kazoo, and this combination makes the song have a certain sense of lamentation. The death growls again come in, still sounding aggressive and brutal, but being supported by a number of female backing singers the effect is mournful. The longest song the album (at 7 minutes in length) this track may be a bit of a grind to listen to, but hearing it will evoke a profound sense of loss and mourning.
The same solo flute as the title track returns to deliver the closing song, further building upon the previous tracks feeling of loss. However, the track is also similarly peaceful giving a feeling of rest and nostalgia. A beautiful way to close an epic album.
Was Wollen Wir Trinken:
But it's not over! Sneaking in at the back end of the album is a cover of a well known traditional drinking song. You are greeted by a slow and dirge like guitar line before the guitars stop and the flute take over to deliver a danceable and festive sounding tune. The guitars eventually seep slowly back in, before thunderously entering the main part of the song behind the flute. The growled vocals return briefly before the flute takes over again, finally ending the album.
- A brilliant blend of aggressive metal with danceable folk music.
- Prominent bass lines, rare in modern metal.
- The different speeds of the songs make the album lack repetitiveness, making you keen to listen again and again.
- Instrumentally gorgeous and well-performed
- At only barely half and hour in length, the album is not really long enough to constitute being called a full-length album
- Sometimes the brutal vocals detract from the folk music, alienating the rest of the music.
A very well done folk metal album, using influences such as Finntroll and Korpiklaani in a new and exciting way. Lovers of folk metal would do well to pick it up and have a listen and give this little known band the credit they truly deserve.