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What could have been... - 75%

severzhavnost, June 12th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2009, CD, Independent

Дрыгва was a regretfully short-lived pagan black metal project from Belarus that showed quite a few interesting ideas in their limited body of work. The vocals are pretty much garden variety black shrieks with little variation, but instrumentally there's a good deal going on. This demo Кола часу features guitar styles that run the gamut from folk-black, to black-death, to thrash riffs, and they all make sense in the same 14:06 runtime. Keyboards generally stay in the background, while there are also some well-placed flutes to enhance the catchy melodies.

"Старажытная Беларусь" starts things off with a heavier thrash type of guitar rhythm to prop up the song's overt nationalism. Folkiness returns during the main solo, and is especially prominent in the bridges, where the keys and even bass jump out of their backing roles to lend support to the lead tune. Then follows "Цяжкия кроки" with a Skyforger-esque riff of gently blackened folk metal. The flutes offer a very complimentary counter-harmony, which is just as important as the guitar for melodic memorability of this song. Really great stuff here so far!

The back half gets a little unfocused, but still has its moments. "Купальская ахвяра" could have had another pretty cool folk-black song happening there, but it falls off into a wholly forgettable chugalong. A nice flute interlude doesn't really get it back on track; instead it just feels plopped in there for the hell of it. The closer "Правадыр" rescues the demo though. Guitar-wise, you'd almost think you're listening to some Belphegor-type death/black metal, it's that fast and heavy. Somehow though, the peculiarly folky patterns rippin' outta the breakneck guitar solo feels more likely to have come off a violin in distress. So in their own unique way, Дрыгва manage to maintain a pagan metal atmosphere all throughout despite a wide array of musical subplots popping up.

I'd recommend poking around for this oddly captivating little demo. It's nice to be reassured once in a while that the whole pagan-folk phenomenon hasn't yet been probed to the limits of its versatility. These Belorussians will surprise you!