MUNRUTHEL is the solo project of THUNDERKRAFT (see my review of their latest album here) drummer… Munruthel. Everything started around 1995, when the debut album of SILENTIUM was released. It was a CDemo titled “The Ancients’ Wisdom”, containing 18 electronic compositions, all by the hand of Vladislav ‘Munruthel’ Redkin, who at the time drummed in the Death Metal band SUPPURATION, which later changed its name into NOKTURNAL MORTUM. The follow-up, “Yav, Nav i Prav” came out in 1997. This was released, after much consideration, under his own nickname, MUNRUTHEL. And so history goes on, as Munruthel himself seems to be a very active and versatile musician.
The album in question, “Epoch Of Aquarius”, was originally released in 2006, having been written in 2004 and 2005. To give it more international attention, Svarga Music decided to re-release it in the summer of 2012 and this for the European territory. In the meantime, a new MUNRUTHEL album has seen the light of day under the title “CREEDamage” (November 2012). Still need to review that one as well. But anyway, “Epoch Of Aquarius”…
Most work for this album was done by Munruthel, but for obvious reasons he got help from fellow musicians to fill musical gaps he couldn’t fill or wanted to see them filled properly. “Epoch Of Aquarius” begins with the battle sounds of “On The Verge Of The Worlds (Prologue)”: horses, swords, warriors, it’s all there. Atmospheric, horrific sounds appear. Is this hell? This transcends into floating music, chanting, as if the birth of something new has completed. “The Raven Croak” is where the first signs of Metal magic are found. Beginning with the piano, dark Metal follows soon enough, in vein of DARK THE SUNS, PARADISE LOST and so on. Vocal input shifts between clean and screams, while the music is a parallel of guitars and drums on one side, the piano on the other side. Variety is key on this album, in each song. Munruthel and co. didn’t stick to one direction. Whereas it was Dark Metal to begin with, it’s now turned into the kind of Battle Metal TURISAS is known for. And why not add a touch of Black Metal as well? After that it’s time to increase the melodic aspect, including symphonic elements. Guitars and drums offer power and contrast. The Battle Metal returns later, at a higher tempo, in symphonic Black Metal style. A job very well done.
“In Leaves’ Whisper Or In Bursts Of The Thunder…” attack directly. Melodic/Symphonic Black Metal is on offer with a lot of bombast. Again vocal duties are split, with the clean singing being mainly present in the chorus. I, however, fail to understand why all of a sudden the Metal is shut up in favour of atmospheric music (at a high tempo) with bird sounds. Does this refer to the first part of the title? Guitar solos are also present, even in dual form. This leads to symphonic Metal once more, with the symphonic aspect being key. And if that wasn’t enough, then how about some Neo-Classical Metal? Another very good song, overall.
The title track, “Epoch Of Aquarius” comes into play by the keyboards’ playful sounds. Slow, dark Metal kicks in afterwards, opening up as theatrical Black Metal. The keyboards continue in the verses where melody is of highest importance. Guided by the sounds is clean, hymnic singing. The Folk influence comes to life a little later, ARKONA-style. And so it changes back and forth, even lets the intro theme return. Time to flip things over and have the rhythm section begin a song, in this case “I Was Confided By Dawns…”. That means: just bass and drum, but flashy guitars are added in bursts. I don’t know why or how they did it – and sorry for the name-dropping – but this song reminded me (in a way) of either CONTROL DENIED or DEATH. It’s a fully instrumental track, this time more in the direction of Death rather than Black Metal, and yes, with room for Folk, albeit at a slower pace.
“Echo Of The Forgotten Battles” takes us to the Middle Ages, it seems. Sort of like HAGGARD. Galloping Metal, lead by the flute and in vocal manner by screams… this creates a catchy whole. The acoustic passage that breaks this powerful wall is welcome and fits in very well. It also sounds beautiful! However, the clean singing was not needed, to be honest. It’s not bad, but the music itself was perfect. Then comes the warrior’s prayer before the unleashing of hell aka battle. no praying or singing then, but hellish screams! Dramatic, symphonic Metal expresses the emotional side of it all. Last but not least, there is “On The Verge Of The Worlds (Epilogue)” in which a ballad is presented in the beginning. As Folk and Metal join in, a full outburst is due soon enough: bombastic, symphonic Black Metal. With room for solos. The situation becomes more epic/emotional as the symphonic input grows louder and in volume, i.e. with the addition of trumpets and strings. This is grand stuff!
Really last is the bonus track “Tomhet”, a BURZUM cover. I’m not familiar with BURZUM’s repertoire. However, there’s no Metal here. It’s an atmospheric, dreamy song, as if you’re on another place of existence. It’s good.
It took me a (very long) while to appreciate “Epoch Of Aquarius”, mainly due to circumstances than taste. But in the end, it turned out for the better and I have to say this is one very good album! The mix of influences and the level of variety, of keeping things interesting from start to finish… Definitely a must have!
- On The Verge Of The Worlds (Prologue)
- The Raven Croak
- In Leaves’ Whisper Or In Bursts Of The Thunder…
- Epoch Of Aquarius
- I Was Confided By Dawns…
- Echo Of The Forgotten Battles
- On The Verge Of The Worlds (Epilogue)
- Tomhet (BURZUM cover)
Munruthel – vocals, keyboards, drums
Istukan – guitars, bass
Wortherax – solo and acoustic guitars
Ann – flute
Vel – chorals