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By Svetoslav's Name - 90%

Osmium, November 17th, 2005

"Idu Na Vy" (I am coming for you), read the notice delivered by the messenger of Svetoslav's armies to the enemies that he would soon vanquish. This arrogant (though rightfully so) method was Svetoslav's trademark of waging war. He was the last pagan Knjaz' (duke) of Rus' (the ancestral land that is now Russia and Ukraine) before Christianity's foul grasp overtook the slavonic people and lands. This album is a progression of declaration of war, veneration of homeland and ancestors, and the coming conflict that would overcome the mighty kingdom or Rus'. It ends with the current Ukrainian national hymn, perhaps a testament that Rus' might rise again?

Thunder and rain begin the first track, a monumental declaration of war that, with its blistering and ferocious onslaught of rhythm/lead guitars, immediately sets the mood for "Idu Na Vy!" The production is surprisingly clear, and the lyrics are even intelligible during the majority of the tracks. Clearly, instead of serving as an inhuman wail, or a tortured shriek, the vocals are a harsh yet clear urging to war, told no doubt from the point of view of Svetoslav himself. Though the guitars, drums and vocals serve as the voice of war, some progressions obviously depicting battle, the album is heavily laden with keyboards (which may sound a tad articial at times) that often depict scenes of armies riding on horseback across vast grassy plains, all fanatically obsessed with the victory that they know they will achieve. A guitar solo, surprisingly well within the bounds of this album's achievement, makes its way into the first song. It is a fairly unique one, in that it seamlessly melds with the rest of the track, perhaps representing a successful strafing run through enemy infantry, or maybe my imagination is getting the best of me.

Of the next two tracks, the first literally means "Glory to Ukraine," which begins with a chant "Ukrainje... SLAVA! Ukrainje... SLAVA! Ukrainje... SLAVA! SLAVA! SLAVA!" and then a "folky" keyboard sequence that gives way to the rest of the song. It is similar as far as layering is concerned to "Idu Na Vy," but it's obvious that the theme is more joyful and venerable. The following track is a moody reflection upon what will happen to the Slavonic hordes, with Sautorius of Nokturnal Mortum performing a fairly impressive vocal performance. The part is spoken as opposed to sung, and the determination and conviction is conveyed flawlessly.

Of the next group of tracks, the most impressive is "Dym - Jego Znamja, Ogon' - Jego Kon'," a 12 minute epic that begins with a calm-before-the-storm sequence of ambient campfire noises. The sound of the flames becomes louder and louder until a spontaneous burst of a repeated melody signifies the beginning of the battle. The lyrics to this track, fittingly, are "Our army marches..." There are short interludes of relatively calm melody that obviously foreshadows a plunge back into the heart of battle. At certain points of the album, Izverg (vocalist) cries out to Perun, Veles, and Dazhdbog (the three Slavonic pagan deities).

A short summary: ferocious lead and rhythm guitars, fearsome vocals, and somewhat contrasting beautiful keyboard sequences make up this album. The production is fairly good, and there is not much repetition unlikely most other black metal.

Here, I should make the ubiquitous comparison to Nokturnal Mortum. It sounds similar, I admit, to NM, but only superficially so. In fact, I'd say this is considerably better than NeChrist and Lunar Poetry - it is far more relentless without sacrificing any melodic beauty, and contains a larger variety of moods and sounds than their compatriots.