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From Russia with hate - 82%

Valfars Ghost, January 18th, 2019

Even if your parents don't know the difference between death and black metal, when a folk metal band uses the former rather than the latter as the foundation for its sound, it makes a big difference. Leshak is one such group, building its musical identity around the sort of thing you might expect if Deicide worked an accordion and a traditional Russian flute into its sound. Pulling ideas from a bowl labeled “Death Metal” with one hand and another bowl labeled “Russian Folk Music” with the other, Leshak's sophomore album, Пустосвят, is a fun excursion and a nice break from the black metal foundation that's almost ubiquitous in folk metal.

The members of Leshak seek to soup up their homeland's traditional music, infusing it with the fury and energy of a standard death metal act. These guys know what they're about and aren't interested in progressive trappings or lengthy epics. Leshak is content to rush through the scenery, their bouncy, chugging riffs dressed in all the down-tuned fury you'd expect. This energizing but not particularly inspired death metal template provides a good backbeat for the band's folkier ambitions. Armed with an accordion and some kind of traditional Russian flute, Leshak lays folky melodies that will make you think about Tetris and St. Basil's Cathedral over the riffs. There's not much diversity from one song to the next but there are plenty of catchy moments as the accordion and flute weave their upbeat rhythms, with 'Darjane- Marjane', the title track 'Пустосвят' and 'Ойся, ты ойся' being particularly infectious.

While the folky elements of Leshak's sound are this album's focal point, this band isn't slacking when it comes to the more metal components. The riffs aren't particularly exciting on their own but they certainly provide the songs with the punch they need. Meanwhile vocalist Wolfenhirt's growl fits well with the rest of the music. His gutturals, even for people who speak Russian, are probably unintelligible and it's hard to imagine a human's vocal fry register getting much lower in pitch. The bass, surprisingly, is frequently audible, which goes a long way to make the band's sound feel complete.

All the elements of Leshak's sound come together for a satisfying meat-and-potatoes folk metal album. Though there's not much to chew on for anyone looking for more ambitious or progressive fare, the death metal foundation and the noticeably Russian flavor throughout makes this release stand out a bit. Пустосвят isn't going to wow anybody but it should be more than capable of satiating the appetite of the not-particularly-adventurous folk metal enthusiast.