SVYATOGOR is a Ukrainian Metal band said to play “Experimental Death/Black Metal with the unusual for this style arrangement, vocal parts and melodic fragments”. SVYATOGOR came ot life in the autumn of 1999. Its line-up was completed in the years 2000 and 2001 and features (ex-)members of THUNDERKRAFT, QUINTESSENCE MYSTICA, TRIGLAV, DRUDKH and ASTROFAES.
Anno 2002 the band began the recording of its debut album, but due to a technical failure, all recordings were lost. The band tried again in 2004 and success! “…With Wolfish Stalk And By Wings Of Black…” came out in 2005. The musical style was described as Pagan Black Metal. But afterwards the line-up undergoes a few changes. With renewed strength, album number 2 is made and comes out under the title “Energy-Freedom: Force Is Strong, Power Is Imperious” in 2009. The songs are heavier, harder and can be described as Death/Black Metal. More line-up changes then, as drummer Amorth I.M. (ex-DRUDKH) and bassist Duk join the band. The focus lies on concerts at that point, a new album is the least of their plans. But that third album gets written and recorded anyway. “Doctor Veritas” is its title and the release occurred on the 11th May 2012.
The lyrics are written in English, Russion, Ukrainian and French and are said to be about society’s problems, human emotions, contemporary history, structure of the universe and macrocosm. Ten tracks are to guide you through this heavy list of issues. I’ll use the English version of the titles, because I I can’t type the Russian or Ukrainian ones. Below I’ll indicate with a * which songs are in those languages.
“Doctor Veritas” begins with “In Memory Of Fallen Heroes”, a dark and doomy track. There’s some building, melodic additions in a Folky way, followed by slow, harsh verses. That includes harsh vocals. The Black Metal breaks loose a bit later, sounding furious with the necessary musical drama. This velocity falls back to a midtempo Death Metal kind of piece, which I think is the chorus. The Folky stuff, rather psychedelic in sound, remains present here and there. But hell’s demonic influence can be experienced later on, at which point the blasting returns. All ends with howling, dramatic, Doom-ish melodic Metal. Or better, this leads to the explosion that wipes everything out. In short: there’s some good stuff, and overall it’s not bad, but it’s not super either.
“Work Hard. Eat. Watch.” is a more theatrical song with a humpa-rhythm. The music is in a way similar to that of e.g. CARACH ANGREN, LE GRAND GUIGNOL, DIMMU BORGIR, and so on. The Metal gets added, in the same vein, but is soon replaced by pounding Death/Black Metal, again with the humpa-rhythm and the theatrical touch. The melodic bridge flows well and is music only, while the chorus is blasted out of the speakers with great drama and devastation. The midtempo Metal that is next contains shouting vocals and this is not exactly the most fitting change. It sounds weird. To some extent, when the humpa verses kick in again, I had to think of old IN FLAMES (era of “Whoracle”, for example), with that difference that I’d rather have IN FLAMES to listen to. Halfway the song, the band takes a new musical direction: straight-forward rocking. Add a passing ambulance for atmosphere and liveliness and then pull the plug. After which the rebuilding commences. I’m not excited (yet?).
“The Manifesto” begins easy with bass and guitar before full power is activated. The melodic verses are blasted out, connect with a wild, melodic and instrumental bridge that links with a midtempo, yet simple rocking chorus. However, things do get more ballsy afterwards. The verses return later on, as does the haunting atmosphere. And so the song is concluded. Or in other words, what? What kind of ending is this? It’s like the song had to end at some point, but like this it’s very drastic. It’s no different in “Doctor Veritas”, which also begins calm, though here with twirling sounds and a clean guitar. Whispering vocals come in and slow Metal is introduced, sounding dark and vile. And when you think you’re in for a creepy ride, which somehow it is, all signs of Metal vanish and you get clean, Jazzy music, which seems to be the bridge into the dark and rough chorus. Nothing happy here, indeed, not in the least. The song flows onwards, from clean to metallic and back. There’s even room for a saxophone solo. It all ends like it started.
In “Nor Fire, Nor Sword” SVYATOGOR head into the Industrial direction. Beginning with a beeping machine, like the one in hospital that controls your breathing and heart. The music is slow, doomy, but melodic. Also, nothing warm here, just cold and haunting with room for Black Metal blasting, especially in the chorus. Madness reign afterwards and that includes the humpa-rhythm, the saxophone and so on, creating a wild mix. The Industrial influences return later, near the end of the song. What can I say? These Ukrainians sure know how to mix different elements, but whether or not into a coherent whole… is hard to say. If I have to be at least one time positive, then it’s about “Awoke / Incoming (Antartic Solitude)”. It begins in a direct way with melodic building through the guitars and toms. The verses follow neatly and in the same manner. Demonic vocals guide you through the lyrical department. At the bridge it’s all about straight-forward, melodic rocking, while switching to something Jazzy now and then to arrive at the chorus, where Black Metal dominates. Instrumental talk is key in this song. After the twist halfway, the chorus returns, while the guitar solo is set near the end of the song. Why is this, at least to me, one of the better tracks? All seems to flow better, seems to be structured in a better way.
“Spit And Forget” contains live audience cheers, in the beginning and the end, but also in between. Drums begin with the bass, the guitars are added along the way. On offer: slow Black Metal with, obviously, a good dose of melodicness (the amount of leads and solo is higher than before, I have the impression). It feels a bit like PARADISE LOST, even though this is no Black Metal band, I know that. After the return of the crowd, SVYATOGOR goes Thrash with the classic humpa beat and so into sonic devastation, for a change, to come back to Thrash. The wild guitar solo is used as jumping board to plunge into blasting Black Metal. But then, all of a sudden, the music drops in tempo, sounds gloomy and there’s a little speech going on. After this, it’s Black Metal time again, though not so fast. All ends with PARADISE LOST-like music. In short, another song that’s hard to digest, or better, sit through. Why are there so many ingredients here? Why was there a need to throw so much into the mix to the point it just tastes bad?!
“Inevitability” has a machine starting up. A clean guitar is played all the while until hell is unleashed though furious, devastating, blasting Black Metal. How the music flows is a different story, because in a next instant you get a melodic slowdown, to speed up again and slow down once more to venture forth with straight-forward rocking. While melody is having its moment of fame, the band added clean vocals over it. The result is very much taste-based. The solo is also scheduled some time later, connecting with a clean, dreamy and exotic part… that ends in drama with another solo. What?
The band offered a touch of Jazz previously and they do it here, too, in “Lust”, with soft vocals over it. This doesn’t work at all. The whole speeds up from melodic Metal into a Black Metal based composition. The amount of solos is quite high. As the song flows onwards, at some point it starts anew: clean, Jazzy stuff and onto the Metal aspect. Already several songs ago, the band lost my attention. And finally, the last track, “Reincarnation Of Thoughts”, where the Black Metal bursts out of its egg. The guitar melodies have a light Folky touch, but in general… what is this song? If you can call it that.
The press text said that SVYATOGOR play “Experimental Death/Black Metal with the unusual for this style arrangement, vocal parts and melodic fragments”. It’s experimental, alright. And with such bands, you either like it or you don’t. On the other hand, not all experiments can be successful or make sense. I understand that bands have to try anything to be original, to stand out and what not. On “Doctor Veritas” there’s so much going on, it’s not a matter of taking time to get into it. It’s easier to get out of it. Unless this is what you’re looking for.
- In Memory Of Fallen Heroes *
- Work Hard. Eat. Watch.
- The Manifesto *
- Doctor Veritas
- Nor Fire, Nor Sword… *
- Awoke :Incoming (Antarctic Solitude)
- Spit And Forget *
- Inevitability *
- Lust *
- Reincarnation Of Thoughts *
Arius – vocals, guitar
Master Alafern – gutiar, violin
Duk – bass
Amorth I.M. – drums