You might take a quick look of this Slovakian band’s name and album art and easily pass it off as some sort of cheap and silly Tolkien folk metal but you would only be about one percent right. Malokarpatan’s ‘Nordkarpatenland’ isn’t a majestic Shambless style romp through the Elven forests of yore, but rather a mystical themed epic heavy metal record with black metal vocals and a heavy dose of German speed metal influences. The folk metal elements are limited to interludes and some instrumental breaks, many of which seem as if they’ve been sampled from movie scores. The majority of the album is a mix of classic heavy metal and first wave black metal. It is an album of energetic pure metal pride and buzzing, nature-worshiping black metal darkness.
If you’re familiar with Czech metal veterans Root and their early 2000’s ventures into classic heavy metal with black/speed metal aesthetics then ‘Nordkarpatenland’ should evoke that same grandiose feeling with slightly less forceful operatics. The thrash and speed metal moments found here do take quite directly from German heavy metal greats like Accept and Scorpions as much as they forge their own aesthetic and riffing closer to obscure greatness such as 90’s Pagan folk-thrashers Bifrost from the Netherlands. For all of it’s glory ‘Nordkarpatenland’ feels more like a step-forward into interesting territory by a relatively amateur band. It might feel that way because I’ve heard a few of these riffs quite directly in classic metal, or it might be the quality of the instrumental non-metal sections that don’t necessarily combine with the heavy metal tracks they’ve been sandwiched in with.
If you’re a fan of NWOBHM, mid 80’s speed metal and have a taste for black metal of the era this will feel like a slicker, more updated take on the sound that doesn’t try to modernize things to much. There shouldn’t be any doubt that this is a heavy metal album and the black metal tag suggests the first wave of black metal. Think of a band like Bulldozer, Flames or again Root on their earlier hard rock influenced speed metal albums with reverb-soaked growls and gloom a few generations removed from Bathory‘s ‘…The Return’ era covering Thin Lizzy. I’m sure these descriptions are only getting more confusing and I have to admit that although this album was confounding overall it was more enjoyable with each listen.
|Released||October 31, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Malokarpatan on Facebook|
Devoured into the night. 4.0/5.0
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