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No innovation, but a lot of spirit - 65%

diogoferreira, December 2nd, 2011

The year of 2010 marked Nebokraj's debut with the "At the Boundary" full-length record. They may not bring any innovation, but you will want to listen to the entire album.

About a year ago, hailing from Moscow, Russia, Nebokraj released their debut record titled "At the Boundary". It is a band that deals with Slavonic heathenism and history with a lot of folk elements in their music; the flute is the center of attention for this folk matter.

After the intro, "Beyond The Morning Mist" is filled with acoustic guitar passages and an orchestral ambiance that reminds me of battalions of warriors contemplating the vast territories. "Saga of Vseslav" starts with a typical folk metal guitar riff accompanied by the flute that will be heard throughout the record. The typical «oh oh ooooh» will be also heard behind the guttural voice of Knyaz.

"Black Depths of the Woods" starts with a faster pace than the previous one and with some breaks like marking the tempo. Inevitably, after a first attack full of force, the flute comes back to calm the hosts, but not for a long time because the fury returns a few moments later.

However, "Fires" is a more slurred and slow song that can be easily hummed and you won't notice it. "Chariot of the Sun" follows the same path as the previous song regarding the humming with some «oh oh oooh», and guess what, the flute is right there to be heard side by side with Knyaz's voice and when he is not singing, the flute takes the main role.

"At the Boundary" might be the last song because of the rain falling and it would fit quite well if it was the last one, but it is not. "Wild Hunt" ends this full-length record.

The "At the Boundary" artwork is worthy to talk about. With the booklet opened, I found black pages with silver letters, a combination I always admired. There are some landscape paintings that remind me of the seasons, being the autumn and winter the most evident. Finally, the busts of musicians are fantastically painted by some sort of pencil. In a post-scriptum manner, I would like to say that I wrote the song titles in English, but originally they are written in Russian and the lyrics are also sang in Russian.

I have been always talking about the flute, but I can't run away from it. Besides the voice, it is the most audible instrument. It is hard to find elements that make any difference between each song, but this statement of mine does not put the album in checkmate. Every song has the flute along the voice or the guitar, every song has fast moments, and almost every song has the same structure. I find this album to be very enjoyable, but not that extraordinary. Extreme diversity does not mean quality and Nebokraj is an example of that.

Originally written for and posted at Riff Magazine