Album Title: 
: zemnis: supnai:
Release Date: 
Monday, August 25, 2014
Review Type: 

The ancient city of Tier, not that far away from Moscow, capital of the Russian Federation, has quite an interesting history. Unfortunately, the old Soviet institutes sort of ‘killed’ quite some elements from the culture and traditions of that era, at the shores of the river Volga. But are several bands out there that try to revive the forgotten glory of that era / area, and amongst those is this one: Kreiviskai. The band was formed in 2013, and soon after their birth, the quartet started working on their debut full album. The aim was to return to the legacy of the Tier folklore, and this via different channels: using traditional songs and archaic tongue, performing on folkloristic / archaic instruments (Kryvyan [which comes from the Prussian translation for the Tver-region] bagpipes and horn, the so-called ‘gusli’ [1] and ‘glib gudok’ [2], hurdy-gurdy, vargan [3], flutes etc.), and so on.

[1] gusli: some kind of very old multi-string plucked instrument

[2] glib gudok: a string instrument that one plucks with a bow

[3] vargan: local variation on the mouth harp

Anyway, the debut : zemnis : span : gets released via Casus Belli Musica, which surely is one of the most prominent and dedicated labels when talking about folkloristic (Metal) Music. Respect! And what’s more, this release ‘is constructed as an annual calendar cycle – alternating ritual acts of different seasons close up, and start from the very beginning – showing a listener the Life’s breath and the Eternity’s majesty, while the ritual hymns together with some somnolent hissing noise of a gramophone record plunges a listener into a semi-trance state’. I would say ‘yeah, whatever’, but it would be unrespectfully, and I am not that kind of guy (I am a sociable misanthropist, you see…).

The album (43:29), meaning something like ‘dreams of the land’, sort of focuses on a ‘trend’ (and believe me if I say that ‘trend’ is not, and I repeat: NOT, referring to some sort of modernistic trendiness going on !!!) that characterises this specific scene, if at least it has to do with the addition of the ‘traditional’ instruments used.

But in a quite general approach, there is so much going on right here. Elements from shamanistic chants, obscure invocations, darkened Ambient melodies, local Folk hymns and minimal pagan ethnic Folklore, with quite some natural sounds samples as well as (traditional) acoustic passages – it’s all part of this release. Actually, : zemnis : span : gathers all those different, yet related elements, within thirteen pieces that are much more than ‘average’ Folk Music. Every single track has an own story to tell, every single composition, no matter how short or lengthy it is, comes as a part of a traditional performance that tries to refer to the glory days of ‘etc’…

Casus Belli Musica once again surprises with something quite unique. I do not know how ‘popular’ this kind or Music is in their home country, but this label tries to cross the bridge in between ‘East and West’, and with this release there’s quite a big chance that this ‘crossing’ would / could (should) be quite successful. Kreiviskai do not perform the kind of Traditional Folk we’re used to in the western areas of Europe, yet still there’s a certain reference. But what’s more, about every composition on this album is like an adventure, or at least a part of such journey, focusing on pride, elegance and inspiration. I can’t hear any fake element at all – on the contrary, I think that the elementary basics are based or honesty, truth, real Folk Pride (though, then gain, one must consider certain pieces of quasi easy-listening pseudo-mightiness too). But in any case, this album is not just a recommendation, but a must, for all those who appreciate the darkest regions of shamanistic rituals.