Genre: Black Metal/Heavy Metal
I have to be really honest as I know so little about Slovakia. A few about a velvet split with the Czechs and the story of Imi Lichtenfeld is all I know about Nedved’s cousins, that is not enough and rather perfunctory. So it is silly to think that I might know more about this country’s heavy metal scene having no idea if it is something big or even existing. But we live in 2017 and considering a band’s birth place strange for extreme sound to grow or exotic is terribly passé. No one calls ‘jungle boys’ the members from bands coming from Brazil anymore and no one thinks any band coming from former Comecon countries as comrades or too Slavic too rock. Even though Malokarpatan have a Slavic name (something like Little Carpathian) and they use their native language on their lyrics, as also their artwork is definitely folklore-driven and traditional Slavic influenced (even though with a bit less Slavic theme if we put it next to their debut ‘Stridžie Dni’ and closer to a fairy tale book cover), still these guys are incredibly interesting and worth to discover especially since they have released English versions of their lyrics. I guess characterizing them as black metal is a one dimensional description because, damn, they are much more than this. Primal, raw with old school strong riffing and classic metal melodies to fulfill their Fenriz-like proto-black bizarre heavy metal is definitely closer to reality. I can see clearly Master’s Hammer as their biggest influence, blended with folk ingredients, early Bathory elements, classical music, a Jewish harp sound ( ‘V okresném rybníku hastrman už po stáročá vyčína’), Maiden-like guitars (‘Ked gazdovi upeleší sa v chyži ne’), a howling wind, Venom parts, a deer grunting, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond leads and rhythms (‘Ve starém mlyne čerti po nocách mariáš hrávajú’ & ‘V rujnovej samote pocichu dumá lovecký zámek zvlčilého grófa’) and samples from classic Slovakian films playing the role of intros and interludes. With that kind of sonic arsenal Malokarpatan is creating an ambitious, almost fascinating unique result. The use of trumpets on the closing track seems a peculiar way to sound pompous in the final moments of the album, but if you did pay attention throughout the entirety of the record you would have noticed that this is exactly what these Slovakians want to do, as it wasn’t the only unpredictable twist in the album. The tempo changes or the style switching is a part of the bigger plan. The listener has to be 100% concentrated in order to assimilate the transitions from one mental and psychological to another state through the eerie atmosphere and the horrifying aura that the band creates. A brilliant work, an excellent and particularly remarkable record, ‘Nordkarpatenland’ (translated to ‘north Carpathian land’ as for Slovakia) is one of its kind.