Review Summary: Aside from a few stumbling points, Temnozor craft their finest album.
For those that don’t know, Temnozor is a folk black metal band from Moscow, Russia that is generally considered to be one of the better examples of this style of black metal alongside heavyweights such as Nokturnal Mortum. Вольницей в просинь ночей
Folkstorm of the Azure Nights
as it is known outside of Russia, is their second full length album that was released two years after their debut, Horizons
. While Horizons
was met with generally positive reception, Folkstorm of the Azure Nights
is widely considered to be Temnozor’s defining work.
As the album begins, atmospheric synths are immediately heard as drumming slowly fades in along with some whispered speech. All of this continues until the three-minute mark when black metal riffs that mimic the synths come into the song along with harsh vocals with melancholic singing layered over them that eventually leads into a blast beat. Following the blast beat, choirs enter the song as P. Noir’s soaring clean vocals handle the chorus to the song. This is followed by more blast beats and a melodic folk section involving a flute before the chorus returns and the song fades out with the flute and guitar playing the main melody of the song.
Upon hearing this opening track, the band’s epic style immediately becomes apparent to the listener. While it deviates a bit from song to song, the album has a strong viking metal vibe that sounds like a crossover between Hammerheart-era bathory and traditional black metal. This is due to the fact that the songs often have a lot of flute playing, acoustic guitar, and synth work that gives the album a dense and atmospheric sound. Tracks such as the aforementioned album opener and “As the Autumn Razors Sing Above My Veins” utilize these tools to great effect and end up sounding immense as a result. Some of the songs such as “Vranakrik” and “Watch the Falcons Fly” sound more like traditional black metal and this is also executed superbly with great riffs and drum work. While all of this is without a doubt the albums main strength, the theatrics can grow a bit tiring on songs, such as the aforementioned “Watch the Falcon Fly”, where there is almost too much going on at once.
As one might guess, the performances on Folkstorm of the Azure Nights
range from solid to excellent, with some of the band members shining brighter than others. Unlike most black metal bands, Temnozor actually has two vocalists performing on Folkstorm of the Azure Nights
. Handling the harsh vocals is the recently deceased Kaldrad, who handles most of the vocals on the album, and P. Noir who handles all of the clean singing. Kaldrad’s vocals are nothing too impressive, but get the job done for the most part. The majority of his vocals are him belting out the lyrics almost like a thrash metal or hardcore singer, with him throwing in the odd shreik or growl to finish off the verses. On the other hand, P. Noir’s clean singing is excellently executed and contribute heavily to the band’s epic viking sound. Most of his singing is midrange and sounds pretty good, but at several points he hits some high notes that are quite impressive. Aside from the vocalists all of the instruments on the album are handled by Ratibor and Svyagir with the former playing the flute and the latter playing every other instrument on the album. For the flute playing, there isn’t much I can say as wind instruments aren’t something I know much about, but I can say that his playing contributes a lot to the bands folky sound. Svyagir on the other hand, does a great job playing the guitars, drums, keyboards, and bass on the album. The guitars never play anything too crazy, but the riffs on this album are tightly played and often quite melodic. His drumming is also pretty good and incorporates a lot of double bass work and blast beats. As previously mentioned, the keyboards on the album give the album atmosphere and as far as actual playing goes they are played well. Lastly, the bass, when it can be heard, mostly mimics the guitar riffs and sounds good, albeit hard to hear.
In the end, Folkstorm of the Azure Nights
is a great folk black metal album and is a fantastic starting point for any metal fans interested in this band. The album can be tiring at points, and the theatrics may bother some listeners, but the album doesn’t do anything that is likely to turn the average metalhead away completely. If you like black metal bands such as the previously mentioned Nokturnal Mortum and Hammerheart-era Bathory, you owe it to yourself to give this album a shot.