Album Title: 
Warden Of The Stellar Crypts
Release Date: 
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Review Type: 

I have to admit that I did not know the band Wardra. However, this act from Moscow did release a full-length in 2017, an EP in 2018 and a split with Logos (defunct in the meantime) in 2020. But it never came my way. Wardra was formed as a duo in 2016 and evolved throughout the years into a ‘real’ band (nowadays a quartet). Original member W (Vladimir Snegotsky) was part of the Aethyr line-up too, and collaborates with Majestat.

Anyway, Wardra finally finished a second full-length, which got released in a partnership in between Satanath Records (from Georgia) and UK-based Onism Productions. The physical release is on compact disc, with a limited edition on digipack (100 copies) and a pressing on jewel-case (400 copies). Both of them come with a sixteen-page booklet, which has fine cover artwork, created by the duo Rotten Fantom (which includes band leader Vladimir and his partner Elena Snegotskaya).

Warden Of The Stellar Crypts (it’s easier to use the English title) clocks not less than fifty minutes, divided into eight (Russian) titles. It was recorded in 2023 in different studios, and eventually mixed and mastered by Sergey ‘Lazar’ Atrashkevich, whom you might know from Rossomahaar, Nargathrond or Arkona. Following a note on the biography, this new effort might differ a little from the former material, but what I hear is very hopeful. …though, a word like ‘hopeful’ does not fit to the concept and result at all! All hope has gone, all light, life and joy are non-existent.

That starts with the lyrical content, which is a concept of eternal waiting on resurrection, seen through a cosmic narrative. Planets have turned into wastelands, worlds have died. A spirit hopes for the rebirth of a new world within the destroyed cosmos, yet eternal emptiness and nothingness will remain. There indeed is no hope for any awakening…

From sonic side, the album brings forth an intense and energetic form of quite ‘traditional’ Black Metal with an atmospheric and an epic touch. The better part is dynamic, vivid, and up-tempo, leaving barely room to respire. The kinetic tracks are build around fine tremolo-led structures, with harsh rhythms and victorious harmonies. The melodies bring an angry yet somewhat proud web of balanced textures, once in a while enriched by an eccentric, discordant fragment.

This massive wall of a bleak and blackened vision of strength and courage is strongly guitar-driven; the guitars are, evidently, the main ingredient behind the epicism and melodicism. Also the deep and raw vocals (unexpectedly powerful they are) are quite characteristic, giving the whole that militant touch of devastation and intolerance. Yet one cannot ignore the colossal rhythm section either, with fine-tuned backing-string support and truly amazing drums patterns. And still this is so much more than a thunderous assault of noise. It’s the detailed song-writing and execution that makes this effort an outstanding piece. Everything fits, all elements have been worked out meticulously and carefully.

As said, the better part is energetic and fast. Most of the time, the pace varies from up-tempo over strenuously severe to disruptively assaulting. Yet not one single moment the tempo scorches in exaggeration (luckily). Once in a while, the whole smoothly drops back too, exploring territories of doom and despair. But even these slower excerpts come which such all-withering atmosphere and all-devouring fire.