Feb 242023

(Andy Synn presents a new track whose subject matter is painfully relevant on this particular day)

Did you know that today it’s been exactly one year since Russia invaded Ukraine?

If you didn’t… well, I wouldn’t necessarily blame you. It certainly doesn’t feel like the war has been going on that long, even though it somehow also feels like it’s been going on forever.

Let’s face it, the human brain has difficulty processing events like this, especially over long periods of time, and that goes double when we’re not being directly affected (and I won’t even pretend to understand what those actually in the war zone must be going through).

It’s an all too human response, and one which makes it all too easy to grow numb and jaded, to simply accept this as “the new normal” and forget what fuelled our anger and our abhorrence in the first place.

But the song/video we’re premiering today asks us, implores us, not to forget. Not to blind our eyes or cover our ears, but to heed the cries of the dead and the disappeared and to remember those who have been lost… because sometimes that’s all we can do.

If you’re not familiar with Hvrt then perhaps the best place to begin (if you haven’t watched their new video already) is with my review of their first album, The Grief That Feeds The Night.

It’s a record that instantly struck a chord with me with its distinctive blend of ferocious intensity, bowel-quaking groove, and doom-laden atmosphere, which I quickly dubbed “Blackened Death Sludge” and compared, not inaccurately, to a three-way back-alley knife fight between GraveGrief, and Goatwhore.

But as harsh and – at times, at least – haunting as their debut could be, “Vergissmeinnicht/ Nezabudka” (literally translated as “Do Not Forget”, but more poetically interpreted as “Forget Me Not” after the flower which played a key role in inspiring this song) is an altogether darker, gloomier, and even more emotionally-abrasive affair, as befits its sorrowful subject matter.

Beginning with a recording of a piano piece performed by an unnamed Ukranian soldier (whose whereabouts and wellbeing are, sadly, still unknown) – the main motif of which forms the central melodic theme which ties the entire track together – “Vergissmeinnicht/ Nezabudka” quickly establishes itself as a humongous sonic slab of heaving riffs, lurching rhythms, and howling vocals (a significant proportion of which are delivered by Pripjat/Ayahuasca/Raptvre vocalist Kirill Gromada, singing here in his native Ukranian for the very first time) that takes everything which made their previous work so good and, somehow, kicks it all up another notch.

It’s in the second half of the track, however, where the real surprises await, with the band shifting into an even more overtly Black Metal inspired mode strongly reminiscent of latter-day Shining (especially in the way in which it transitions from moody melodic melancholy to blistering blackened belligerence as it comes out of the bridge) and/or Bethlehem at their most brooding and bruising.

As declarations of intent go – both musical and ideological – this one is going to take some beating, and so it’s fitting that Hvrt have elected to put their literal money where their mouth is by promising that all proceeds from this song will be donated to the ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine via the Aktion Deutschland Hilft alliance.

We’ll close with a short quotation from the lyrics (written by Hvrt‘s Stefan Braunschmidt and translated into Ukranian with the assistance of Pripjat‘s Eugen Lyubavskyy and Alexey Pasko):

Не прощайте провину тому, хто її наносить
Те що буде завтра, ще не пізно сьогодні

Which in English can be interpreted as:

The guilt is not forgiven by the one who carries it
What tomorrow will bring is not too late today

You can stream and download the song now from the Hvrt bandcamp page.

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