Belarus is not necessarily the ‘biggest’ country within the Black Metal scene, though there are several pretty interesting acts out there. Despite quite an impressive curriculum vitae, Zaklon, a project by Temnarod (also involved with e.g. Desolate Heaven, Hreswelgr, Pogost, Defunctus Astrum or Unlight Forest), is not that known at all outside the borders of the former U.S.S.R. I was impressed by some of their former releases; the review I did for Ш϶пt ϥophara Лicьця, posted on February 24th 2013 on this webzine, shows my appreciation for this solo-outfit (or at least that specific recording).
Nikoli…, the fourth full length, was originally independently released in very early 2014, but it gets a proper distribution right now by Belarussian label Possession Productions (for the European scene) and Embassy Row Music (for the American distribution). It consists of six tracks, having a total running time of almost one hour. And once again, the native tongue is that what Temnarod uses for his lyrics, so please do not ask me what they are about in essence (let’s keep it on subjects like religion, or anti-religion, mysticism, nature and dark thoughts).
Atruta (which means something like ‘poison’), the longest track on this album (fourteen minutes), starts very promising: an atmospheric Ambient soundscape and the noise of geese or ducks, after two minutes joined by hints of Funeral Doom-alike material, then returning to the initial ambient spheres with inclusion of spoken words (still with those geese)… At four minutes and a half, the whole concept turns into a rather Post-oriented concept for a short moment, but then the Black Metal roots appear, suddenly, out of the black, eh, of the blue. And that blackened approach implies slow, grim, rough yet cold, introvert and funereal sombreness, including atmospheric melodies and throaty black-grunts. As from then on, there is a permanent interaction in between these melancholic Black parts and ambiental and / or acoustic and / or tribal intermezzos. Next track, Dołu (if I’m not mistaken, and so must be Google Translate, is this Polish for ‘bottom’…), shows another side, by starting with a fast and grim, raw and freezing Black Metal outburst. It holds the middle in between soberness and desperation at the one hand, and victory and pride at the other. I do not think it’s so strange to have the Canadian, Norwegian, Finnish and, of course, Russian scene in mind as comparison. The tremolo melodies and epic rhythms are of a quality that equals the top of the scenes from the countries I just mentioned (and in extension, the whole globe). Then comes the title track, which is even more epic, aggressive and ready to fight. And so on, and so on… It goes on this way for the next compositions, until the last one. Dym is an acoustic track with spoken words, yet oh so fine. Acoustic guitars, softly-mesmerizing synths and those limited spoken passages… Dym is a fine piece to end this interesting album with.
Nikoli… might not be as impressive as the fabulous Ш϶пt ϥophara Лicьця-album, but still I think this is an example of the hidden beauties in a country we do underestimate. Once again it’s a label from that very same country, Possession Productions, a label that pleased me before (cf. Šmiercieslaŭ’s Cjomny Pryliŭ Razburennja / Ciemrazoŭ; you can find the review for this stuff on the September 2nd 2014-update), that is needed to show the treasures of Belarus. But in any case, Zaklon are a superb project, which must be heard by everyone who adores rawness, grimness, nihilism, victory and tradition.