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These songs set the night alight with mystical, crystalline fire.
The above sentence is the only thing I've been able to write so far that captures the gravity of this release, and even then only tenuously. I attempted to write numerous sentences after it, elaborating upon how brilliant this music is, but words truly escape me, and I almost feel that any attempted description of these compositions risks cheapening them somehow, like this assemblage of demos is some fragile figurine I risk breaking through stumbling words. That alone is a testament to the power of this music; whenever trying to tell someone about it, I'm invariably reduced to simply repeating "It's so good" over and over again, fully aware that I'll never be able to adequately communicate its absolute brilliance in any but the simplest terms.
There's a bit of humor to be found in how one of black metal's greatest achievements is just two early demos from this Ukrainian endeavor on CD; one might expect something with a bit more fanfare to it considering its musical weight. It doesn't even come with an actual booklet. But maybe this is for the best; the less presentation the better, I think, as nothing will be able to prepare one for the absolute nocturnal majesty of these songs. It's hard to say what makes this music so amazing; it's as though the members of this band somehow landed on the right series of notes to unlock some magical portal to another world, and the sounds of this album are a translation of those first few moments on a plain beside our own. To say this music is essential is a nearly profane understatement; it is the very definition of what black metal should aspire to be.
In a very concise nutshell, one could describe this music as being a very simplified form of what would be found on Nokturnal Mortum's 'Goat Horns'. The second demo on this CD is perhaps closer to that with its cleaner sound and denser songwriting, and the first a bit more remote, more minimal and darker. It's nearly impossible to say which side of this release has the edge, and even if it were, the weaker is still miles above nearly all other black metal, making such a determination entirely irrelevant. The main resemblance comes in keyboards being one of the leading providers of melody, with guitars generally harmonizing with the keys to provide a lush bed of intensity to propel the music. The drums are driving and played with conviction, arrays of thrash and punk beats forming the skeleton that the songs are built on and topped off with a throat-shredding screech as the chosen form of vocalization. The elements are deceivingly simple.
Out of this simplicity emerges breathtakingly stirring music, the sort of thing one hears in dreams and desperately grasps to remember when morning comes. Every note is both savagely raw and achingly beautiful to the point where there is no distinction between these two facets: the band displays the fury and grandeur of nature and creation in a manner understood but never explained. Beauty is found in harshness and vice versa, and any musical choice the band makes goes unquestioned by the listener, as these songs couldn't be written, performed, or presented in any other way. This music is the perfect union of all possible facets, and the result is unforgettable and unexplainable.
The first demo is presented savagely, with intensely raw production providing the perfect setting for these songs to unfold. A river of low, ripping guitars over an undercurrent of throbbing drums and creaking bass crafts the rich landscape for keyboards to agilely dance through, while a cold, harsh voice narrates the tale with a palpable misanthropy. The presence of Ukranian folk influence is clear but unobtrusive, coming in clearest with the occasional acoustic guitar intro before the band returns to full fury. These tracks are more primitive than the second demo's but no less potent, and will sear into one's memory upon the first listen, be it the almost frighteningly alien and intense opener 'Dubuk' or the mystical, neoclassical 'In Search Of The Soul'. Not one moment fails to deliver one of the most engrossing and haunting experiences to ever be found in black metal.
The second demo possesses a slightly more traditional Ukrainian symphonic black metal sound, but loses none of its strengths. The production on these tracks is clearer yet still evocative and powerful, providing a more refined, almost Victorian play on the tracks of the first demo. The 'Goat Horns' comparisons are strongest on songs such as 'Armageddon', with its domineering keyboards over constant propulsion of thrash drumming and incisive guitars. You could say these two demos are two takes on the same set of stories: one undeniably barbaric and savage in nature, and the other a more refined and emotional take on the same mysteries. Neither has even a shred of weakness to it.
These two demos overwhelm black metal in its entirety with their unfailingly gripping tales of the mysteries of the night. This music cannot be bounded by a term such as 'classic' or 'essential'; it is timeless and ageless, and after thousands of listens will fill you with the same sort of wonder and fervor that gripped you from the first. An absolute artistic masterpiece that cannot be outdone in any regard.
Misyac Pomsty, or Moon of Revenge is quite an obscure release by one of Ukraine's finest bands, Dub Buk. Everything about this two demo compilation is pretty primitive compared to their newer stuff. But I must say this is by far their darkest and coldest release, yet it still has many of the elements that made albums like Idu Na Wy and Rus Ponad Vse so great.
The production here is noteworthy. It's weak and raw, yet light and smooth. It's something of it's own, but it most likely reminds me of Nokturnal Mortum's Goat Horns . With Misyac Pomsty, you have a more hypnotic sound that doesn't rely too much on keyboards. As a result, there's a more prevalent guitar sound and even a good bass. I was able to make this comparison when I heard the fourth track, "Cruelty", a 12 minute masterpiece. The underlining riffs remind me exactly of Veles Scrolls (a song from NK's Goat Horns). An excellent song filled with majestic keyboard parts, strong, melodic clean vocals, while giving you the feeling of being in another world.
In general, the first four tracks are much more calm while the last three are heavier. Songs like "In Search of Soul" have quite an icy feel to it, as if you were stranded out in the cold plains of the eastern lands late at night. Several short breaks occur in the first four tracks. It's mostly synth driven, but in case you have ADD these breaks are short enough such that the metal resume again.
The last three tracks kind of pave a path for the ideas found on Dub Buk's sophomore album, Idu Na Wy. Rather than the dark, obscure, hypnotic sound found on the first half of the album, there's a more triumphant, majestic, heavier feel to these three tracks. Zasinae is a personal favorite of mine due to the cool shouts towards the end of the song.
The musicianship overall works really well. It's nothing spectacular, meaning you won't hear any vibrant guitar solos or wild riffing, but that's not a big deal at all for an album like this. Each instrument works very well together - they're all drowned out on the same level - they all stand out at the same level. Keys are never overused nor do they steal the show. They are a great icing on the cake used sparingly enough to really bring the best out of the Misyac Pomsty. Vocals are pretty standard, a bit more screechy than usual, but this type of style works a lot better on such a production, compared to the more roaring/barking vocals found in later Dub Buk releases. Also the second half of the CD has slightly better production, but it's not easily noticed.
Unfortunately, 37~ minutes is a bit short, especially when combining two demos. It would've been nice to hear more songs like it. And I would've loved to see some lyrics/translations to these songs but I guess that adds more to the obscurity? But for the most part, I was impressed from the moment I heard Misyac Pomsty, and it grew on me even more. At first listen, the album didn't seem too original, but after digesting it more, I realized this is a piece of work that can only come from a country like Ukraine. The atmosphere, mood, and style is on a whole new level that separates itself from the generic pagan black metal bands found all over.
If you can find this compilation, or its reissue, I'd highly recommend picking it up. It's better than the generic Graveland, Nokturnal Mortum, and Hellveto clones that are found all over eastern Europe and other places. Misyac Pomsty is an underrated gem, and if you can find a copy, give it a listen. You won't be disappointed.