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Haiduk, or The Haiduks as my mp3 program automatically labelled them - a gross mistake in every way based on the actual band name and the plurality (Haiduk is a one man band) - is a one man project out of Calgary which calls itself a death / thrash band but which sounds like neither but reminds me mostly of Kataklysm in a melodic sense. Aesthetically, there is a lot here in common with black metal. The cartoonish album art bears resemblance to the dusty and occult covers in the genre, but the symbols which represent each song on the album remind me less of runes and more of the icons representing building options in Populous: The Beginning. Still, the layout and effort is well done here with a nice eight page booklet and a host of reading material dealing with magic and occult topics and stuff. Musically, Haiduk still deals with issues of identity in bringing this side of the band to the auditory altar. On a less aesthetic note, the music on Spellbook suffers from what I would describe as a lack of additional input. As a one man band, self-critique is almost more important than production and while the production on the release isn't bad, the music lacks something that at minimum a second mind could provide. There isn't a lot of nuance or depth to these tracks for all the twisty riffs and technical playing.
Take for example opening track "Lich" which rummages around with a few riff ideas for a period of just under a minute before Haiduk's sole proprietor Luka Milojica pushes out some death metal vocals. The opening riffs make appearances throughout the track in the exact same configuration and manner. There are no real variations on anything and nothing is used to elevate the riffs to a higher plateau of composition. Second track "Stormcall" improves slightly as evidenced by the verse riffs utilizing more variations and two separate phrasings but lack of differentiation is one of Haiduk's biggest problems on the disc. Sure, there are lots of little nifty noodles and frills which technically make the tracks different. Even with that though, there are a lot of similar melodies, riff structures and textures throughout the release. Even the drumming - programmed - is often reminiscent of itself throughout the album instead of being creative and unique. Many tracks use the same thrashy drum patterns which lose their effect due to the lack of dynamics which are usually the major problem with artificial drums. Sometimes the drum patterns are flat out strange - like an over usage of the splash in some songs.
I don't want to say all is bad here though. One of Haiduk's strongest attributes is Luka's guitar playing and intricacies. The guy is a good guitarist and writes some interesting riff ideas. He's got pretty nimble fingers for a dude that wears a black curtain all the time. A track like "Forcefield" shows his ability fairly well with a lot of tricky riffs full of hammer-ons and pull-offs. In a track like "Hex" which happens to be my favorite on the album, Luka shows he can craft some interesting thrashy melodic death metal. Hex is one of the few songs which seems to have it's own character on the release and lets go of some of the technical mumbo-jumbo at times. Luka's voice isn't bad either on the tracks where there are vocals. For Luka to really take Haiduk that next step into being a really excellent project - which I think isn't far fetched - he would have to work on pacing and making sure each track has standout moments. I'd like to see more song variety. Luka already has a pretty unique riff-writing style so incorporating some slower moments, some different arrangements and compositional techniques would emphasize the better aspects of Haiduk.
Spellbook, for me, doesn't really quite achieve what Luka was aiming for. With the bio sheet describing that Haiduk "is a direct channeling of haunting musical ideas... luring the listener towards themes of magic, evil, nature and myth" not once do I feel any of these makes a showing. Also stated was that Spellbook was "a black magic conjuring of fast guitars and powerful riff attacks summoning an atmosphere of true darkness." While the riffs are fast, there is very little atmosphere on the release. It's a rather clinical production. Also, because a lot of the riffs are so noodley, it's difficult to feel much power in them. I'm not really sure what kind of metal fan would really like this but if I had to guess, maybe someone just getting into more technical thrash would find the busy riffs but stable and tame underlying song structures appealing. Sometimes something can be so busy that it becomes boring.
Originally written for Contaminated Tones
A one-man project of guitarist Luka Milojica, Haiduk hails from Calgary, Alberta. Spellbook is the second outing under this moniker, and follows a demo issued in 2010. Obviously guitar-oriented, it is dark, fast and straightforward, and has a lot of chops in the low end. According to the man, the general themes revolve around black magic, nature and myth. Spellbook is a death metal album that is not far away from the musical universe of Bolt Thrower, with a few lead guitar trash injections reminiscent of Melechesh and an overall punch-in-the face effect that would appeal to fans of Kataklysm.
As illustrated on its cover, the book is made out of 10 spells, all equally powerful. There are no acoustic passages (except for a 3-seconds intro in “Hex”), just some pulverizing and intelligent songs built on addictive guitar riffs. Vocals are brutal and efficient; the bass tone fits nicely and supports essentially the guitars; as for the drums, they are programmed and are quite straightforward, but we couldn’t care less when the overall production works so well together. On that note, the recording is surprisingly good, being both powerful and clear.
The whole album is less than 33 minutes, with an average of 3 minutes per song. Despite this apparent short duration of the songs, the album flows with great ease, thanks to the guitars that bring in an incredible amount of great ideas and stop before losing the momentum. Overall, Spellbook is the kind of short album to start your day, that is perfect for the Summer, being easy to digest, or when you need a quick fix of daily adrenaline. Highly recommended.
[Originally written for blog.metalmadeincanada.ca]
A lot of one-man projects suck. Adding black metal to the mix mostly doesn't help. Haiduk is the project of Canadian metalhead Luka Milojica, and this band has only been active since 2009 releasing a demo entitled "Plagueswept" in 2010. When the time had finally come to release another torrent of epic blackened death metal we had entered the year of 2012, and this incarnation of Haiduk is entitled Spellbook.
Haiduk could well be described merely as extreme metal. The Spellbook album offers a great many variations of the same mix: Black, death and thrash metal. The way Milojica holds a chord on one level while playing a more vivid thrashy melody on top of it on another level gives the music a lot of depth, only encouraged by the adding of hoarse growls straight from the grave. Haiduk is in essence lightning fast with epic riffs coming out the ass, and ultimately there's something kind of honest and pure about the musik on Spellbook. It's not trying to be something it's not and as such comes across as a flow of something that comes natural to the mastermind behind it all.
There are very few things this album misses, but one of the areas it is found lacking is in the vocal department. The Bolt Thrower-esque vocals sound awesome whenever they're applied, but the problem is the scarcity. It'd be a shame for the vocals to overshadow the riffing, which is by far the album's strongest point, but throwing in some more vocals once in a while couldn't hurt and would probably also relieve the problem of some of the melodies blending together a bit.
Haiduk's Spellbook is good for what it is. The black metal-infused torrents that make up the riffs, the abyssmal vocals and the machinegun-drums form a straight up gratifying album that is sure to please any fan of blackened death metal with a tad bit of melody. If you're looking for originality or technical prowess you won't find much of either on Spellbook, but what you will find is tight as fuck metal without any acoustic interludes, overly long atmospheric intros, outros and/or intermissions and generally no bullshit. The melodic riffs tend to get a little bland with time, and for the most part the lack of vocals for variation makes some of the tracks a tad bit tedious to listen to, just short of becoming a chore. It's a problem limited to a few tracks, but it feels like the vast momentum Milojica builds up in certain songs remains unresolved for the most part.
Originally posted on http://gouls-crypt.blogspot.com/
Canadian act Haiduk is listed about the internets as various things, so I wasn't sure what to expect upon opening this promo up, and to be honest not too excited. But I'm telling you right now, once and for all, superseding the authority of any other source you might encounter, this here is a very nice half-hour of black/ thrash with programmed drums just begging to be replaced by a talented human. I'm also a bit excited now.
Riffage is along the lines of frantic, songs like 'Lich', 'Stormcall' and 'Fire Wield' go straight into an impressive turmoil of shredding to shame Laiho imitators everywhere. 'Tremor' sounds a bit too 8-bit for my liking, but most of the rest of the album remains decently intense. It's a little like Jari Maenpaa being let loose on a recording studio with a bunch of occult books under his arm instead of fairytales. There are nods to creme-de-la-creme black/ thrash outfits like Desaster and Nifelheim as well as early Destroyer 666 along the way, while a song such as 'Black Wind' has a bit of a Behemoth feel in its intricate salvos. Fuck me, get a drummer involved in this stuff man.
So that brings me onto the "drums" - they sound OK despite being programmed, I guess technology long ago brought us past the days of really hideous DIY jobs, but it is still really easy to pick out the computerised percussion. A decent human drummer could bring this from great to fan-fucking-tastic very quickly. I hope that is what happens in the future, as this has lost the record major points. The vocals, I was hugely pleased to find, are mostly throaty roars more in touch with cavernous death acts or black/ death fuckers, with a touch of Nergal in there every now and again. That in itself gives the album a far more brutal edge, as well as offsetting the programming to make everything that much more visceral.
The album's presentation and "spellbook" concept is slightly cheesy, but hardly more so than the latest Goreaphobia, and executed with enough detail and authenticity to make it a benefit rather than an embarrassment. So it all comes together neatly, always a massively pleasant fucking surprise when it comes to total newbies, especially in the one-man band variety. This band could seriously do very nicely in black/ thrash circles with, like I say, a couple more band members to really flesh out the bottom end and perhaps the songwriting process so that the shredding chaos is contextualised; and the promotion it needs of course.
I think that the so called one man bands - I prefer to call them solo projects – is not something uncommon these days, even if in the 90’s it used to be a black metal thing mainly. But with the possibilities, which people have nowadays – with computers, recording software, etc – it is easy for anybody to get his own album, without even visiting the studio. Haiduk from Canada is such a project, formed by an individual named Luka Milojica. This Calgary, Canada citizen (but of Serbian origin) has done one demo so far, 2010’s “Plagueswept” before he recorded his debut full length album “Spellbook” in 2012. I must warn you, that if you think that all solo projects are utterly primitive and nothing more, but a lousy and unworthy bedroom projects then you may be positively surprised, as Haiduk stuff looks and sounds really professional. “Spellbook” is superbly released – on CD with great artwork and professionally printed booklet – and the music sounds pretty much as good as any studio stuff you may think of.
What I like about the music of Haiduk most is that it is mainly oriented on the long instrumental passages, where the vocals appear quite spontaneously (but not mindlessly) and occasionally. Luka Milojica puts more focus on sharp, aggressive riffing, often filled also with quite melodious parts, but definitely his style is quite original, as he avoids the typical song structures like chorus, verse, chorus, etc… And it actually works well, you won’t really feel that there’s so little vocal parts on the album and definitely you’ll be able to hear many great riffs instead. The guitars create the whole atmosphere, they’re also responsible for keeping the tension and Luka turns out to be quite talented and skilled guitarist. He plays a lot of leads, puts quite a diverse and dynamic, powerful stuff through the whole album, avoiding only some very slow parts, but definitely there’s a lot of fast or at least mid tempo stuff here. I like Luka’s riffs, his ideas and the way he builds the songs. More so, style wise the music of Haiduk may reminds me a bit of the modern Swedish melodic death metal, with bands like Arch Enemy and from the other hand at few times I had a small resemblance to some of the late Emperor works (listen to the opening theme of “Hex”), final Dissection LP or Keep of Kalessin plus some Slayer and recent Kreator can also be spotted here or there…
So there is a fine combination of different metal subgenres – death, thrash, black – all well balanced, but the whole stuff is played in quite new, modern way rather than the old school one. The production of “Spellbook” is also very fine, I like that heavy guitar tone plus I must admit that the use of the drum machine doesn’t disturb at all, which is quite rare thing (I usually get annoyed by the machine drumming without any soul and feeling). I’m not gonna mention any standout tracks, as I think that the whole material from “Spellbook” is on the same high level and none of it really needs a special treat. The whole album is good and with 32 minutes of music I think it is enough to 1. convince that Haiduk is a worthy project and 2. it is to satisfy the listener. Really good debut then.
One man bands often do not leave a good impression, with too many being simply bedroom projects that release at best mediocre material that feature simplistic, uninspired music. Canada’s Haiduk is the brainchild of one Luka Milojica, but unlike many other bands that feature a single mastermind, this has interested me a little bit, with the occult-related themes and imagery that he has taken to, and Spellbook, the band’s debut, seems to be a promising record as well, coming in 2 years after the band’s debut demo Plagueswept which garnered pretty good response.
Haiduk certainly does not disappoint as the band hits the listener quickly as the album begins with Lich, with a rather thrashy feel with the riffs and the lightning quick pace of the music, immediately catching the attention of the listener with the immense amount of energy that is here. Though programmed, the drums for the most part manage to sound rather organic, and the mixing of the drums allow for each hit to pack a punch on the listener’s ears, making for the music to be even more intense. Unsurprisingly as well, the drumming isn’t anything particularly flashy, mostly taking a rhythmic role in keeping up the fast pace and intensity of the music. On the other hand though, the guitar work on Spellbook seems to be the focus, with Luka’s playing easily going from a crushing, death metal inspired style to one that leans more towards black metal, reinforcing the atmospheric elements of the music. It is rather expected then that Luka’s guitar playing is one of the key focuses of the music, with the speed and precision of his playing being highly prominent in the music as he executes all the complex riffs on Spellbook with much ease. This can also be seen through the rather low presence of vocals on most of the tracks as well, with the guitars taking the front stage in driving the music.
Most of the songs on Spellbook are rather short, allowing for Haiduk to deliver their dose of brutality in the listener’s face. The music here is therefore mostly rather straightforward, with little time for filler material at all. Combine this with the usually fast playing of the band, this ensures that the music is experienced most effectively, preventing the listener’s mind from wandering off as the album progresses. However, while this could be a good thing in preventing things from getting too stale, at times this could be the downfall of the band as well, with tracks that seem to build up yet suddenly ending just as one expects the band to hit a climax, like the rather sudden ending of Stormcall leaving the listener high and dry. This also at times result in rather awkward transitions to the next track, breaking the flow of the songs.
However, overall the songs on Spellbook are all pretty impressive in themselves, and apart from these few moments of awkwardness and the at times artificial sounding drums, Haiduk is definitely a band to watch out for, with Spellbook dispelling prior generalisations of bands that adopt the same format.
Haiduk's sense of unbridled velocity is made even more remarkable by the fact that this is all the work of one Canadian, Luka Milojica who competently executes each instrument and vocal like a pro. It's hardly a novelty to encounter a one-man extreme metal project in this day and age, but in general most of them tend to favor a baser, atmospheric sort of approach to the material, or at least succumb to an imprint of base rawness and simplicity. Not so for Haiduk, which is more like a fully formed, infectiously thrash-inspired death metal band moving at rabid speeds. I had half-expected a more ritualistic, occult environment with either synthesizers or other embellishments, but this is very heavily a riff-based monstrosity which pursues a clear path to punishment.
I suppose the aesthetics on parade throughout Spellbook are most redolent of those 'blackened' death metal acts out of Poland like a Behemoth, Hate, but there's a frenzied, electric post-Slayer playground to many of the riff sequences which reminds me more of Vader (Haiduk's logo even seemed like an italicized alternative to the Poles' own). However, the frenetic tapping and looping melodic cycles that Milojica is constantly airing out over the certainty of the rhythmic force take on a more frantic, technical visage redolent of something like Nevermore in cuts like "Stormcall" or the hyperactive "Lightning". The drums aren't the most dynamic or unique, and the beats are rarely more than a support system for the speed and tension, but to the album's credit, they're powerful and perfectly in step to the same sense of celerity. Slightly less impressive were the bass lines, which never seemed to take risks, or the monotonous grunts, which are percussively fit but just don't evoke much agony or interest. No, Spellbook is a guitar album, and Milojica' acrobatics in that particular stratum were more than enough to carry me through the 32 minutes of ten very concise tunes.
Granted, they're not the stickiest of riffs in terms of melodic connotation, and perhaps individually broken down they're far from unique, but the deftness and precision with which they're rifled through help keep the ears attracted to where the songs are going, in particular pieces like "Tremor" and "Vortex". The leads do often feel as if they're just 'techniques' being exploited, and not the climactic, emotional adventures I generally appreciate. Haiduk does not generally tend to incorporate much variation in tempo through particular tunes, but there are points on the album like "Lich" or the closing of "Vortex" where he plies out slower, more cautionary, exotic guitar lines that weave a necessary contrast against the thrust of the riffing majority. I also thought the minimalist choice in song titles and lyrics gave the album this sort of feeling that I was truly experiencing some lexicon of the arcane, conjurations of wind and fire and other hostile magics that were reliant on correspondence and force rather than subtle enchantment. Spellbook really is a 'tempest', and duly impressive for shucking expectations and showing no dearth of effort in its composition. The project could benefit from a more dynamic vocal inflection, and a handful more rhythmic segues, but even then this is a damn solid debut and I'm not sure what could stop this individual as he continues to develop his sound...