The Ukrainian pagan metal band Natural Spirit has released their fourth full-length album “Пiд Серпом Часу” one year earlier via Czech Epidemie Records. And with a gap of nearly ten years between the records the musicians have managed to increase not only their technical abilities, but also compositional skills.
Slavonic pagan metal isn’t a big thing for a huge ethnic/world branch of music, but still it has strong roots and pretty candid allegiance. Natural Spirit aren’t among the first ones or the most original or famous, but still they have something to offer, showing the individualistic spirit of their own. “Пiд Серпом Часу”, as well as their earlier records, is focused on folk/black metal side, but with quite an audible inclination towards melodic softness. Nevertheless, their music stays true to all traditional metal tricks, and sometimes the black metal spirit prevails. But all these ethnic things are not just some kind of ornamentation or occasional lines, catalyzing mood changes. Folk spirit lives through all the compositions in a casual way, but with an unobtrusively focused sincerity. And with a higher emotional background “Пiд Серпом Часу” sounds much more livelier and high-powered.
The black metal aura dwells upon the heaviest compositions, such as “Не бачу бога” with all the characteristic traits (blast beats, high-pitched guitars, raspy screaming), but still stained with mild tinge of ethnic spirit. Some experimental seeds were intricately planted into particular musical patterns, like rap recitals in “Чортів млин”, pop singing in “Пiд Серпом Часу” or symphonic solemnity in the same track. The common spirit of “Пiд Серпом Часу” has rather a military ambiance with all the march-like drummings and traditional heavy metal rhythms, but here and there the mood transforms into something romantic (“Гори, палай!”) or even mischievous (troll-like “Чортів млин”). But the lush melodic ethnic veil enfolds “Пiд Серпом Часу” in a confident and natural manner.
To highlight the folky atmosphere, Natural Spirit decorated their music with exotic instruments, like the Jew’s harp or djembe drum, as well as acoustic guitars, various noisy sound effects and a little bit of percussion in the background. Still, some songs sound a little bit insipidly, but nevertheless, structurally everything here is polished, but without a gloss, leaving a room for some kind of unfinished rawness. Some songs lead into a peculiar hurry, some flow in a peaceful current, but the energizing and vigorous tempo holds the reins of power. And the folkloric side shoves away all the non-standard twists with the pure mightiness of Slavic deities. The alteration of classical screams of Oleg Kirienko and reserved clean female voice of Antonina Vinnyk works good for accetntuating the contrast, and on this newest record Antonina was able to diversify the music with a stronger and more manifold performance. So, from pop manner and operatic passages to folky howlings and low and atmospheric musings, she enlivened “Пiд Серпом Часу” with a keen sense of fashion. Yes, this time they’ve really succeeded to display the true Slavonic nature.
Nine-year long pause is a long period, but it gave Natural Spirit an opportunity to sharpen their musical mastery and create something worthwhile among such big names as Аркона or Percival Schuttenbach, the genuine eastern European folk metal. Yes, the sound is still not perfect, the catchiness of some songs is limping and the originality has rather random approach, but the substantial improvements speak for their ambitions, it seems like Natural Spirit have found their rightful place on folk metal scene.
Release date: May 18th, 2020
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