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One release, two modes - 63%

Valfars Ghost, May 19th, 2017

Доху я купила is a good sampler for anyone interested in trying out Kalevala, a virtually unknown Russian folk metal group just as deserving of your attention (and your moolah) as Arkona. This is a short, simple EP that contains two of their quicker, catchier numbers and two of their slower, more ballad-like offerings. Доху я купила offers a peek at the group’s style, a hearty offering of light metal (no growls, shrieks, tremolos, or blast beats) with deftly incorporated folk instruments.

One simple rule to help you navigate the EP: the odd numbered songs are the good ones and the even numbered ones…well, they’re not bad but they don’t elicit much excitement either. Songs 2 and 4, while competently composed, don’t evolve, speed up, or grow more interesting through their runtime. They’re just bland, soft songs where the non-folk instruments have almost no presence at all. The album closer is certainly the better of these two, featuring a decent chorus delivered in those low-pitched epic gang vocals you hear so often from Heidevolk (this is the only piece on the EP the band’s main singer doesn’t lend her voice to) but still probably won't grow on you all that much.

Songs 1 and 3 (‘Ty Prosti Menya Rodnaya’ and ‘Dokhu ya Kupila’ respectively, for English speakers looking for an easier way to find them on Youtube) are as vibrant and fun as the even-numbered tracks aren’t. In these joyful, fast-paced compositions, the accordion and balalaika do quite a bit of the talking, though there’s plenty of low-distortion riffing and standard drumming to keep up the momentum. Ksenia Markevich’s soulful vocals are as gorgeous as they’ve ever been and breathe a lot of life into these already catchy songs. Nikita Andriyanov, though his riffs serve as background to the upbeat folk instruments and as such aren't anything special, lays down some impressive solos when the time comes.

When looked at in its entirety, Доху я купила is hard to recommend, though two of its songs are true gems well worth looking up. The band has changed very little since the days of their debut album but their warm and non-extreme approach to folk metal, at least in their more uptempo numbers, is still satisfying and still brought to life with simple, well-executed writing and strong performances.