Assume that you’re a near-slavish fan of Agalloch. Now assume that you saw this post by the band on its Facebook page, preceding a link: “New KRODA album sneak peak. It is awesome!” What would you do? As a near-slavish fan of Agalloch, I clicked on that link with my trusty mouse. That took me to a web page for a Ukrainian black metal band called Kroda. On that page was a music player streaming five songs from a forthcoming album entitled Schwarzpfad (which Google Translate tells me is German for “black path”).
The player was preceded by this cryptic verbiage: “Don’t download this promo-version due to low bitrate and because this mix miscontains something. Furthermore, please, don’t upload this promo-version to mp3-traders portals as ‘album’. Respect musicians and their wish to give you possibility to listen new material for free before it is officially released. The promo-player will be active only ’til 02.05.2011. Schwarzpfad album will be released via PURITY THROUGH FIRE in closest time.”
I’m really only guessing about what that means, but my guess is that some of the mixing and mastering remains to be done for the songs as they’re delivered via the player (though it sounds finished to me). I wondered why Kroda bothered to put up the stream with those kinds of reservations. But Agalloch vouched for the awesomeness of the music, even in its not-entirely-finished state, so I started listening.
I listened to every song. And then I started over and listened again. Why? Because it’s . . . awesome. And it doesn’t sound quite like any black metal I’ve heard this year. I figured out a way to embed that player here on our site (after the jump). Check it out now, because if that cryptic note is correct, the stream is about to evaporate.
Kroda describe their music as “HelCarpathian Black Metal”. I like the word HelCarpathian. Though it doesn’t really tell you anything about the music, it’s a cool word.
The music is fucking cool, too. As you might guess from Agalloch’s enthusiasm for the music, it includes pagan/folk elements, but it has real teeth. The songs flicker between scorching, headbanging blasts of high-speed fury, quiet interludes of flute, acoustic guitar, and melodic keyboards, and killer riffs with rock rhythms underneath. The tremolo-picked lead guitar lines spin out memorable melodies, the drums roll and hammer, and the vocals are caustic without being grating. It’s a formidable example of black-metal beauty and the beast.
Seriously, this is good.
Below is that music player where, at least for today and maybe Monday, you can stream the album. You can stay up to date about Kroda and plans for the release of Schwarzpfad in its finished state either at Kroda’s Facebook page or at their official site.
“Assume that you’re a near-slavish fan of Agalloch,” no assumption necessary sir. Indeed I am, in fact, a slavish fan of Agalloch.
Thanks for the stream. Brilliant stuff. Right up my alley in terms of blending folk with blackened heaviness!
See, I like Agalloch, I have the majority of their back-catalogue on cd (barring a few of the ultra rare releases) and listen to them when the mood strikes and am thusly enthralled.
But sometimes they are a *bit* wimpy aren’t they?
I’m already liking Kroda though. Definitely.
You aren’t the first person I’ve heard (or read) who brings up the wimpiness suggestion. I guess wimpy is in the eye (ear?) of the beholder. Compared to, I don’t know, 1349 or Watain, maybe some of the songs would come off as wimpy? There’s a Pacific Northwest nature/folk spirituality in Agalloch instead of the life-hatred or satanic bestiality of some BM bands. Maybe that has something to do with it. I agree that “enthralling” is a good word for the music.
Anyway, I don’t think of them as wimpy, especially not after finally seeing them live. I think of them as powerful.
Glad you’re liking the Kroda. I hope there’s a convenient way to lay hands on this album when it’s finished. I’m going to miss this music when that album stream dies.
Well yes, the songs are completely done, but if you download the stream, as it says, the low bitrate will make the fidelity less than intended from the CD. Though really, since when did black metal care about bitrate?
And yeah, I love Agalloch because they always feature other bands’ stuff on facebook.
I was puzzling over the statement that “this mix miscontains something.” That’s what made me think there was some further mixing work left to be done on the songs. And I do think bitrate would matter to Kroda’s music. Seems like clarity and sound quality would make a difference, since this isn’t all muffled blast-beats and tremolo cascades.
I definitely need to be more consistent in checking out the Agalloch recommendations. Sometimes I skip over them — no telling what I’m missing. The word “awesome” was what made me check this one. They don’t often use that word.
That promo-mix miscontains some clean vocals. This is the most serious difference between it and full album.
Thanks for that clarification, and congratulations to the band on a wonderful album. We’re all looking forward to hearing the final version.
Kroda is better than Agalloch in every way shape and form. One of the best black/folk bands out there, and they’re part of the (un)holy trinity of “Ukrainian black/folk bands with vague ties to Nazism” along withNokturnal Mortum and Temnozor.
Cry To Me, River is probably one of my favorite albums ever made.
Wow, high praise indeed. I just listened to the title track from “Cry To Me, River”:
And now I’m tracking down a copy of that album. 🙂 Unfortunately, the new album stream has indeed disappeared. I am going through withdrawal symptoms already.
I was very disappointed that the album stream disappeared. I was listening to it multiple times a day.
Me too. I hope the wait for the final release isn’t too long, and that it isn’t too hard to acquire when it comes. I guess this kind of marketing tactic works, since it builds an addiction that must be satisfied, but I do find it fucking frustrating!
I’m guessing that with this kind of promotion it will be easy to find. I will order it from Purity through fire if needed. I’m super excited.
Don’t worry so much, guys :)) The album is already on the way to manufacture. I guess, it will be pressed within 2 weeks.
And thanks again for warm words in Kroda address.
2 Tr00 Nate: First of all, I must recognize that TEMNOZOR is not ukrainian band, but russian. 🙂 And also NM and TEMNOZOR (the same as AGALLOCH) are older than KRODA. And in any case, I think one shouldn’t compare them all. Each of them has own original style, own way and own atmosfere. But in the same time I must say it is a big pleasure for me personally to know that KRODA is associated with such a great bands (as I eternally like their albums and respect them as personalities… and fortunately, we are friends).
“The album is already on the way to manufacture. I guess, it will be pressed within 2 weeks.” Dude! That is some seriously good news. Please leave another comment here when that’s done, and then tell us how it will be distribute so we can go get!
My wife’s grandparents on her father’s side immigrated to the US from The Ukraine, so I’ve been educated that Ukraine is not Russia. 🙂
*Genre: Pagan/Folk Black Metal
1. Schwarzpfad I (First Snow)
2. Schwarzpfad II (Universal Provenances)
3. Schwarzpfad III (Hangmen’s Forefather)
4. Schwarzpfad IV (Heil Ragnarok!)
5. Schwarzpfad V (Cold Aurora)
Total playing time: 50:31
The preceding comment includes a download link for Kroda’s new album, which has just emerged. I checked with the band’s management before allowing this comment, and though this is not an “official” download release, there was no objection to having it appear here. Of course, we will have a review soon . . .