NATURAL SPIRIT "Ruskolon"
Folk/Black Metal from the Ukraine sounds like something made for me, as especially the Slavic countries have produced countless brilliant bands of this style and have this unique touch in the melodies etc that make them so endearing, so when NATURAL SPIRIT’s debut album “Ruskolun” reached me with just five years delay, I was really looking forward to reviewing this one. My knowledge of the band’s history is rather slim, all I know is that they were founded in 1998 in Chernigiv, but now reside in Kiev and that they have a second album out, but that’s about it. So now let’s see what “Ruskolun” has on offer, shall we? OK, while they do play Folk/Black Metal, they are not as heavy as many of their counterparts, be it from Russia, the Ukraine, Scandinavia or anywhere else, while the keyboards play a fairly big role in their sound, so that will take care of a lot of potential fans that will now turn off this review, but as you are still with me, let’s dig a little deeper than the surface. Opener “Oyra (Vnukam Dazhdboga)” is short and sweet with less than three minutes (like four others on here) and it bears these typical lead guitar melodies and pairs them with the keyboards and gruff Black Metal vocals over a slow rhythm, a promising beginning, but unfortunately they take a little breather for the next few songs, which are well done and should not disappoint the genre fan, but at the same time do not show anything that would be revolutionizing the genre or be something that as a reviewer I would point out with utter enthusiasm. Basically there are two other tracks on “Ruskolun” that at give me this feeling, the title track, which is more variable, with very good dynamics and more guitars (with the keyboards better integrated into the song) and “Zhazhda Vlasti”, which also adds more crunch while maintaining the characteristic lead guitars, but that unfortunately is it when it comes down to remarkable tracks. Now I have to take into consideration that this was their debut and that they don’t have any real fall-out material either… Just the Black Metal vocals (there also are female vocals to be found on this album) don’t sit all that well with me, as they take away from the overall very melodic nature of “Ruskolun”. If you are a die-hard sucker for the Slavic version of this style, then NATURAL SPIRIT has some excellent stuff to offer (with a lot of mediocrity), but at the same time I personally would wait until the next one (which as I had mentioned is out as well, I just hope that it won’t take another five years to reach me, though…) to see, if they can build on those strong tracks and build their own identity.
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