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Malokarpatan - Vertumnus Caesar review

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Band: Malokarpatan
Album: Vertumnus Caesar
Release date: October 2023

01. Na Okraji Priepaste Otevíra Sa Hviezdny Zámek
02. Koár Postupuje Temnomodrými Dálavami Na Juhozápad
03. Vertumnus Caesar
04. Vovnútri Chlácholivého Útoita Kunstkamru
05. Panstvo Salamandrov Jest V Kavernách Zeme
06. Maharal A Golem
07. Mnohoraké Útrapy Milostpána Kelleyho
08. I Hle, Tak Zachádza Imperiálna Hviezda

There might be some alchemy involved in how Malokarpatan channels the sounds of yore.

Back when I reviewed Malokarpatan's previous record, Krupinské Ohne, I closed the review by saying that even though I absolutely loved it I "wish they went a bit deeper into those oddball parts of their sound". Seems like Malokarpatan took that point to heart and made an even weirder album than I could conceive of without losing anything about what made them special beforehand. But let's not get ahead of ourselves and figure out what we're dealing with here. Malokarpatan are a Slovakian black metal band whose black metal is thoroughly influenced by the first wave and a lot of it sounds closer to speed/thrash/heavy than what's generally considered black metal since the first wave, while also injecting some oddities mostly in the form of Slovak folk. They've been compared to Master's Hammer before, even by yours truly, but until now the comparison felt a bit forced based mostly on Malokarpatan also being from Czechoslovakia and emulating a sound from around the same time and scene as Master's Hammer's. But Vertumnus Caesar makes the comparisons feel even more earned.

For one, an actual ex-member of Master's Hammer is among the guest/session performers on this album in the form of Silenthell providing the timpani. Aside from boring contributions like vocals and guitars, guests also provide such things as minimoogs, flutes, harpsichords, and whatever a "Wurlitzer" is. To say that Vertumnus Caesar is pretty colorful is quite an understatement. And while Krupinské Ohne's brand of gothic folk horror was mostly leaning towards witches and Slovakia's history of witch hunts, Vertumnus Caesar is based around Rudolf II, a Holy Roman Emperor from the late 16th early 17th century with a pretty complicated legacy. His actions led to the Thirty Years War, one of the most destructive European wars of all time, he was a huge patron of art, and weird enough for an emperor but most relevant to our topic, he had a fascination for the occult arts.

Thus there's definitely a different vibe to the album than the folk horror one, but it's still quite touches on all of the "folk", "gothic", and "horror" vibes in a way that feels more in line with stuff like alchemy than witchcraft. Not sure how can I explain it rationally, but a lot of it has to do with the slight ways in which the album is more odd. The folk melodies feel like they have a slightly more classical tone, the riffing feels even closer to King Diamond recontextualized in a similar way to something like Negative Plane, the old timey keyboards get an even larger presence and they become show-stealers whenever they're around. The songwriting and especially the way the keyboard gets involved has an even stronger prog rock vibe too, and more specifically it sounds a lot like the more horror inspired soundtrack work that bands like Goblin and Popol Vuh did. That was the more oddball tone and the alchemical themes can't help but bring Master's Hammer's Jilemnický Okultista to mind.

I still want a new Remmirath album.

Written on 16.11.2023 by Doesn't matter that much to me if you agree with me, as long as you checked the album out.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 79 users
16.11.2023 - 23:23
Meat and Potatos
A Master's Hammer guy, hm? This could be interesting.
This is the kind of band that I always find quite interesting but is still lacking something...
"Aah! The cat turned into a cat!"
- Reimu Hakurei
17.11.2023 - 05:19
Written by Karlabos on 16.11.2023 at 23:23

A Master's Hammer guy, hm? This could be interesting.
This is the kind of band that I always find quite interesting but is still lacking something...

This is the album that might do it for you
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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