THUNDERKRAFT is another Ukrainian Death/Black Metal band that is signed to Svarga Music. As I said in SVYATOGOR’s review (see here), this band features some of those members. The music, however, is different, in that THUNDERKRAFT’s is labelled as, according to the press text, Industrial Folk Death/Black Metal. Now, if each band out there would label its style based on the influences, then the basic genres like Death, Black, Thrash, Power, Heavy, Progressive, … wouldn’t suffice anymore. And yes, who cares what’s it’s called as long as it’s good? That’s a good argument, but we all know genre-defining helps us find similar bands, as in you like band abc, you’ll definitely like band xyz (by manner of speech).
Back to THUNDERKRAFT. The band was formed in 2001 by Alafern, who wanted to play more than Black Metal. With this new band, he ventured into the direction of Death/Folk Metal. Several line-ups later the debut album was a fact: “The Banner Of Victory”. This is the original title in English. Many gigs and some silence later, a new musical direction was desired, also because the band apparently relied heavily on samples. And so the present style was adopted. The band’s second album, “Totentanz”, was finished in the spring of 2011 and released on the 6th of April 2012. Like in SVYATOGOR, the lyrics are written in more than one language, in this case Ukrainian, Russian and German. See the * in the tracklist below to see which songs are in Ukrainian or Russian. The themes include human society and its past, the human spirit, the cosmos, and so on.
The “Dance Of The Dead” begins with “A Time Will Come” where you get a bombastic Metal intro with orchestrations, sounding theatrical and having the rhythm of METALLICA’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. Black Metal follows with melodic, atmospheric backing. The verses are Folky, like FINNTROLL or THYRFING, and obviously have rough vocals. The orchestrations come out afterwards into a neo-classical, harpsichord piece (with Metal) like on RHAPSODY’s first few albums. When they were still RHAPSODY without the OF FIRE element. The chorus is also Folk-influenced with shouting vocals. Things slow down then, in favour of the orchestral input. There’s a nice flow and balance here between the different parts. At some point the music speeds up into a dark, pure Metal part, before going back for the melodic/symphonic pieces, which are induced with a touch of emotion and drama. Or so it sounds/feels. With almost 8 minutes, this track is long, perhaps too long, but somehow it feels alright. A job well done.
The Industrial influence is chosen for “Mass Defect” and this is also how it starts. The take off occurs slowly, with Industrial and symphony meeting each other. When the vocals come in, the song gets a kick in the rear, transcending into Folk Metal. No violin, but a flute. The verses are dominated by the keyboards/synths. Another Folk piece, with the violin this time, helps to make the connection with what I think is the chorus. This slow part sounds cold, harsh and unnatural (as in: the environment is not like a walk in the woods). What the speech sample does near the end, is a riddle to me. This is probably taken from a film, but I have no idea which. All in all, not a bad track, but not as good as the first. More Industrial is applied in the intro of “Totentanz”, which (the intro) also sounds like an old NES-game. Electronic and melodic input is of value here, while the guitars and drums are solely for rhythm and power. The rhythm and beat are simple and while the chorus sounds nice, the singing is, in my opinion, rather lame: “Totentaaaaanz”. Emotion is expressed through piano accents and symphonic elements. Near the end the band opens all vents to let the Black Metal be blasted out, though with a sad, melodic touch. This sounds very nice, I must say. Overall, this is definitely better than SVYATOGOR’s “Doctor Veritas”.
Electronics are key in “Death Won’t Seperate Us”; in the intro, but also later on, though less prominent then. Atmospheric music follows with a leading flute. It sounds esoteric, meditational. Sort of like DEVIN TOWNSEND PROJECT’s “Ghost” (2011) album. However, the electronic touches are unfitting then, they do not belong here. The singing is clean with a low voice, sounding modest. Although a distorted guitar is added, the music remains the same. And very nice, I might add. One point of critique on the singing: it’s not good when getting rough AND going for the higher notes. Either skip the singing or don’t go so high. The growls aren’t suitable either. But the music is good! The symphonic injection is a way to introduce the firmer, melodic Metal (with harsh vocals) that follows. I had to think of TURISAS, musically speaking. There’s also a Jazzy guitar solo, but those electronic pinches, once again, do not fit belong here. They do more damage than good. Ending occurs like in the beginning.
“The Future World” is about technology, computers and so on. Hence the Techno intro, followed by an injection of groovy Metal, while the keys continue to dominate. The aggressive vocals go well with the dark, headbang-friendly music, although this “Future World” doesn’t sound as good as the one PRETTY MAIDS presented us many years ago. Once again, the music relies on catchy melodies, be them Industrial or otherwise. The symphonic addition in the chorus helps create a cold, depressing setting. But what is a wah-wah guitar solo doing here? This sounds so wrong. Halfway things indeed get more Industrial, at a slow pace. You get rough and shouting vocals, of which the latter annoy, truth be told. They might have a use in the context of the song, but to listen to is something else. Things speed up a little to carry on with what came earlier. All in all, one of the less good tracks on the album.
So is “A Crumpled Story”, which begins in a Thrashy manner with Industrial accents. It’s got blasting as well, going into pounding Folky Metal with a leading violin. The verses sound groovy, are screamed and have a haunting feel. A slow, facory-like transition takes place, having the violins in the second part and so onwards to the electronic, Dance-like chorus. Alas, the shouting vocals also found their way to this song. Why oh why! Through the piano, a dark realm is entered. The Metal follows at a regular pace. While previously I thought THUNDERKRAFT was different from SVYATOGOR, it’s in this song the same mistake (if you will) is made: throwing in several elements to have a varied dish, but without a good taste. Screams, symphonic touches, a bit of doom and gloom. Oh yes, and those dreadful shouting vocals as finishing touch. No, thanks.
Things aren’t improving with “Where The Dream Flows As Moisture From Eyelashes”. It begins with a creepy, symphonic intro followed by slow, Industrial Metal. The creepy atmosphere remains intact, electronic influences are important, which means the guitars and drums are just for rhythm and power. It’s a short track, just three minutes long. But overall nothing special. The last highlight, if one can use that word here, on the album is “Towards A New Dawn”. Starting off with an atmospheric, symphonic intro, followed by a lead taking violin. In fact, the entire song is atmospheric. The rough vocals aren’t as powerful as otherwise, seems to be lower in the mix. Still, why is there a need to shout again? Why not just sing in a low voice, like several songs ago? It would be so much better. The music sounds very much alright. Think of SUMMONING and you’ll have a good idea of how this track sounds. Another job well done.
Last, but not least, there’s “The Creator Of Life”. Little by little the Folk/Industrial Metal takes off. Along the way orchestral layers are added, forming an epic whole. The chorus is electronic and dark. No shouting here, it’s growling. Before halfway, the Folk input comes to the front via the violin. Why, once more, are these shouting vocals here? Afterwards the music becomes a bit more chaotic, albeit for a short (recurring) while, flowing onwards as heavier, bombastic compositions with Folky melodies. It’s a long track, a little too long, too stretched.
I’m always open to hearing new stuff, even if it’s not among my favourite styles. THUNDERKRAFT sounded good after the first few listens, it got less as time passed by, but it’s got better again now. “Totentanz” is a multi-layered album, there’s lots to discover here. The description Industrial Folk Death/Black Metal is not wrong, as these influences are clearly present. Compared to SVYATOGOR’s “Doctor Veritas”, I have to say that “Totentanz” is at least twice as good. The music is much better, the compositions are better arranged and everything – well, most – just flows better, is easier to listen to. A decent album, in other words.
- A Time Will Come *
- Mass Defect *
- Totentanz (Dance Of The Dead)
- Death Won’t Seperate Us *
- The Future World *
- A Crumpled Story *
- Where The Dream Flows As Moisture From Eyelashes *
- Towards A New Dawn *
- The Creator Of Life *
Master Alafern – vocals, guitar, violin
Ann – keyboards, flute
Sigurd – bass
Munruthel – drums, vocals
Amorth I.M. – live vocals