HAIDUK is a solo project by guitarist Luka Milojica, who resides in Canada. This project, consisting of Death/Black Metal, was formed in the same year of his first release, the “Plagueswept” demo, i.e. 2010. The songs are said to be based on themes of magic, evil, nature and myth. Last year, in July 2012, he released his debut full-length, “Spellbook”. As Luka works solo and is a guitarist, he had to make use of a drum computer to fill that void.
“Spellbook” consists of ten tracks, totalling a playtime of more than half an hour. It begins with “Lich”, which takes a direct start. Fast, pumping Black/Death Metal comes streaming out of the speakers. There’s a slowdown for the verses, or what I think are verses. It’s the only vocal passage, growled in vein of BOLT THROWER. The music also resembles a little that of the British veterans. Instrumental talk dominates, as it does throughout the entire album, in fact.
Next is “Stormcall”: fast riffing and tension in the intro. It’s gonna bloooow! And so it does, in a more Thrashy approach, yet with enough Death Metal to enjoy. It’s fast, relentless, furious. You could say it’s like IZEGRIM (music) meets CANNIBAL CORPSE (vocals). The growls here are bit deeper, indeed. Instrumental talk again dominates. But even if it’s a short track, it’s not always clear what is what. It might as well have been an extract from a full song. “Black Wind” is a colder song, more Black Metal-oriented, including blastbeats. While the drum computer was quite acceptable in the previous songs, it does begin to annoy here. But the song does have a nice change in rhythms. Growls are backed by blasts. The focus lies on rhythm throughout the entire song, except in the second half where a small lead piece can be heard. However, this song does need more structure.
“Maelstrom” offers more of the dark and cold riffing. Drums add tension in the intro. Once the song has taken off, it’s at a relatively slow pace, ideal for headbanging. Oh yes, there’s blasting as well. Again a high focus on rhythm. Growls are present as well. And now Luka found the time right to add a solo. It’s a strange track, hard to grasp. In “Forcefield” you get alarming guitars, transcending into ferocious, Thrashy Death Metal. Vocally it’s still growling. And drumwise… Luka really loves fast double bass, it seems. These have been used throughout the album, but it’s not always clear why. It’s almost like “Needs more cowbell!”, but then “Needs more fast, rolling kickdrums!”.
Let’s change the instrument this time: “Hex” introduces the acoustic guitar. And this is nice in the context of change and variety. But fear not, Death Metal is on its way, similar to e.g. BOLT THROWER, DEATH, SEPULTURA, … And those aforementioned kickdrums are featured as well. Honestly, it gets annoying. I know double kickdrums are used a lot in Death and Black Metal, but in the structure of the song and the flow of the music, they usually do fit. Here… I don’t know, my impression is they are added at random. “Tremor” has the guitars fading in, with a melodic touch. Evil is about to be unleashed in a Thrashy way. This rapidly changes into the expected pounding. Instrumentalism is again more prominent than vocal input.
“Fire Wield” has the riffing coming in, growing in volume, to then take off in Power Metal-style. Only, here it’s heavier, darker. The vocals are added quite early, but after that it’s all about the music. Also more music (than growling) is key in “Lightning”. this song builds with riffs and drum bursts, unleashing a furious Death/Thrash attack. It’s got a nice rhythm… and those fast double kicks. Last but not least, “Vortex”. Also a bit of tension to start with, in the form of melodic Death/Thrash. And then it’s party time, so to speak. There’s even room for solos, more than before. As it goes with a vortex, all slows down as the end is near.
For a solo project, I have to say that Luka did a nice job with “Spellbook”. Fast, devastating Death/Thrash/Black Metal – yes, it’s got influences from all these genres – from start to finish. If you need a kick in the (…) to wake up or feel re-energized, then “Spellbook” is one means to consider. But overall, and songwise, it’s a bit disappointing, in my humble opinion. In most cases, it’s hard to hear/see a structure and certain changes in speed, for example, can be hard to grasp/understand. Or maybe this album is to be listened to without much thinking, just enjoying the tunes. In that case, sure, why not. The drum computer is well done, doesn’t annoy – I mean in a general way – but it would be nice to hear a real drummer and real drumkit. Other interpretations and influences can only enrich the songs.
- Black Wind
- Fire Wield
Luka Milojica – all instruments (guitars, bass, vocals, drum programming)