Review by Felix on December 29, 2019.
Let me take you on a journey to the Nordkarpatenland, the land that we call Slovakia today. One of the most unorthodox groups of today, Malokarpatan, is back with its second album. Some call their style black metal, but due to many unusual ingredients (cow bells and more) and unpredictable twists and turns of their compositions, I think we have to be careful with any kind of category. Folkloric elements are only logical in view of the album's title, but strange choirs, for example at the beginning of the fourth track - I feel free to avoid the overlong song names - add an eerie touch as well. High speed outbursts are rare and icy leads do not occur. The band prefers to walk its own, pretty tortuous paths through the haunted forests of their home country. A dark guitar sound and the imperious, sinister lead vocals lay the foundations for a metallic work, although the band does not shy away from extraordinary intros or hard rock riffing. Big parts of the guitar work of the fifth track could work in a totally different context. But on Nordkarpatenland, they rather provide a puzzle. However, there are many other songs which announce the song-writing skills of the talented formation. Just let me introduce you to the sixth track. If we decode the formula of this exemplary number, you will better understand the special magic of Malopkarpatan's art. By the way, it is a brilliant track.
First of all, one has to be aware of the fact that Malokarpatan love abrupt breaks which give them the chance to convey very different moods in just one song. Already the first track after the short intro reflects this passion of the band. Naturally, the sixth track also consists of very different sections. Its beginning could be the soundtrack of a fairy tale, before the guitars set in and form surprisingly straight and pretty fast verses. Tempo changes are well embedded, and everything seems to go forward as usual. But all of a sudden, an extremely weird, very melodic intermezzo comes through. Male and female voices accompany a soft yet horrific, Kind Diamond-like keyboard line. The metallic instrumentation returns, and a somewhat nested guitar line brings the excellent highlight to an end. Indeed, Malokarpatan know how to connect a meticulous concept with a touch of insanity and they are able to do so without killing the spontaneity of their tunes. (Incidentally, I recommend watching a live video of this song on YouTube from 2016 - the lead singer seems to be totally drunken and plays the metal jester in a very majestic manner. His band mates look like East European musicians who think that the Iron Curtain is still existing. Impressive!)
Despite their very individual approach, Malokarpatan also feel free to borrow some Maiden-esque lines (from "Only the Good Die Young" and roughly 10.000 more) in order to give the seventh song a pretty melodic touch. Yet they combine it with so many different further elements, for example a synth intermezzo which creates a sacral aura, that the Maiden quotation remains an almost incidental gag. Generally speaking, Malokarpatan's music has so many facets - it is really exciting. The bluesy / hard rocking guitars that show up every now remain the only component which spoils the enjoyment. Fortunately, the archaic, the odd, the harsh, the spooky, the demonic and the down-to-earth vibrations and melodies keep the upper hand. Apart from this, the formation seems to be a well harmonizing unit that is able to generate its own special charm. On the whole, it may be stated that the music deserves 75%, but the originality of the musical approach forces me to give a slightly higher rating. No doubt, the music is the adequate musical backdrop for a journey to the Nordkarpatenland, a region where witches, dangerous monarchs and black hens carry out their nefarious deeds.
Rating: 7.9 out of 10138