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Abandoning ambient for metal - 97%

Pestbesmittad, January 26th, 2008

Munruthel is one of those bands (or perhaps I should say artists) that started out as ambient but with time evolved into a metal band. After two ambient albums (although “Oriana’s Tales” already had some metal influences) Munruthel now enters the metal realm with force. The result is an awesome atmospheric and epic black/power metal album. Basically it sounds like a mixture of Nokturnal Mortum and power metal. This means fast parts, symphonic keyboards and black metal vocals mixed together with more traditional power metal style song writing, clean vocals and choirs plus some very competent guitar shredding. Add a slight folk influence in the shape of several of the melodies and there you have a good description of the music. The concept of this album deals with the return to native faith and values after a period in which those have been distorted. The fire of Svarog will then punish the betrayers.

Songs like “V Shepote Aistef Il v Groma Raskatah” (track 3) and the title track contain very good clean vocal choirs which give these songs a very epic touch. The guy responsible for the clean vocals and choirs, Vitali, has a fantastic voice – one of the best I’ve ever heard. I especially like these vocals in the title track, they sound very expressive and paint a scenery in my mind, even if I don’t understand the lyrics. “Mne Povedali Zorn” (track 5) starts with some aggressive shredding before launching into a fast beat while the shredding continues. This track is an aggressive power-metal-on-speed type instrumental and it also contains some very atmospheric keyboard work, again at times with some folk inspired melodies like only the Ukrainian bands can do it.

“Echo Zabyty Srachenij” (track 6) again makes use of folk inspired keyboard melodies, which are very catchy. This track also contains a beautiful acoustic part with strong clean vocals and narration, probably something about going into battle (you can hear battle sounds in the background) during and after the narration part. Overall this is the most epic track on the album and also one of my favourite Slavonic metal songs ever. It has a very captivating atmosphere and good flow to it despite the fact that it contains parts that are pretty different from each other.

“Epocha Volodya” is an incredible album and I must say that I was surprised at how good it actually is. Munruthel can obviously stand on his own two feet, leaving Nokturnal Mortum wasn’t a catastrophe for him. This album has crossover potential, as it is guaranteed to appeal to fans of symphonic black metal, power metal and folk metal. Power metal fans might have a problem with the black metal vocals at first but the brilliance of the music should win them over eventually. The only negative point I can think of is that the drums sometimes sound like a drum machine. However, Munruthel has been credited with drums, so I suppose he’s also playing them on this album. If you already enjoy stuff like Finist, this one is a must. “Epocha Volodya” is further proof of the excellence of the Ukrainian scene. Slava!