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Radogost is a relatively well known folk metal act in Poland, sometimes praised as the ''polish Korpiklaani'' due to their often humor and alcohol-driven lyrical content (aside from all the folk), as well as a specific approach to their music. Each album seemed to mark an improvement in the bands sound and production. The quintessence for now is the opus ''Dark Side of the Forest''. Released 2012 it's also the first album after some substantial line-up changes the band went through in the years 2009-2010. That included the installment of a new vocalist - Velesar - who took over from Łukasz "Mussi" Muschiol. The latter switched his focus completely to playing guitars from that moment on. Did those changes do the band named after an old Slavic god any good? I'm inclined to say yes.
In comparison to their earlier works, the vocals are less aggressive, with growls or screams being reduced to minimum. Instead we get some deep, raspy and rough singing, clean parts and occasionally the one or another shriek. This works out surprisingly well. What also changes dramatically is the language. It seems Radogost constantly tries to attract wider audiences, since all of the tracks (apart from the bonus track - ''Radogost'' - sung in Polish) are performed in English. The album marks almost a complete departure from songs written in the bands native language.
The mix is pretty good, the instruments blend together well most of the time. Plenty of nice melodies and good ideas swirl around the place and the band manages to capture and put them together quite well, although at times I could not help feeling that they are trying a little bit too hard and overflow some tracks with too many ideas, oddly structured riffs/melodies, etc. That doesn't mean ''Dark Side of the Forest'' isn't an enjoyable listen. It is a good folk metal album that secures the place of Radogost among those bands, you would want to check as an folk metal fan. I am definitely eager to observe the bands next step, since ''Dark Side of the Forest'' awakens appetite for more. Not to mention that the vast majority of Radogost' songs, not only from the here reviewed album, are suitable for one hell of a party on a mead and beer fueled concert. And trust me - these guys know how to put up a good live show.
Radogost is an highly competent and solid folk metal act. The comparison to Korpiklaani has it right to exist. After listening to ''Dark Side of the Forest'' I would also draw a comparison to another Finnish act - Finntroll. Radogost seems to solidly mix and incorporate elements present in the music of both these bands, while adding that individual, Slavic touch to their music, making it worthwhile and lifting the Poles from being another bog-standard folk metal band to something you can hang on to for one or two moments longer.
Give this album a shot, it deserves it.
Highlights: Watra, Radogost, From The Dark