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Malokarpatan – Vertumnus Caesar

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Last Updated on 03:25 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

There’s a great book which praises traditional ritual and magical myths and fairytales of the peasants in central Greece entitled “Pagan Beliefs in the Province of Thessaly” if I’m allowed to translate its title and probably I should give it a try to translate it in its entirety sometime as it is an iconic work of how old stories that have survived by passing from person to person and from generation to another by word of mouth, when they blend with top notch literature, folk elements, horror and black metal aesthetic can give an excellent result. I also mention this Greek book as it seems that it gives me the perfect example on how different people coming from different countries and serving totally different  creative expression, at the end despite the multiple diverse and plural modes of thinking, doing, and being, they create works  that the one fills the other one. You can narrate stories and lore from poor farmers in the Balkans and create the same feelings to the recipient, with another one that makes music inspired from a medieval king in Eastern Europe.

And all Malokarpatan albums sound like the perfect soundtrack of this book. Anyway as Malokarpatan have reached their 4th full length there are not many yet to argue that their medieval, folk driven, with progressive approaching  black metal can charm anyone that digs from Mercyful Fate and Darkthrone through Root and Mortuary Drape and Death SS to Master’s Hammer, Celtic Frost and Manilla Road. If we have to mention some changes with their previous effort then surely the Slovakians have returned to “Nordkarpatenland” (2017) approaching with not so long compositions (only exception the 10+ minutes long closer “I Hle, Tak Zachádza Imperiálna Hviezda” translated to “And Behold, so Goes the Imperial Star”) while aesthetically and musically speaking “Vertumnus Caesar” leans a little heavier into more traditional heavy metal sounds. Probably the addition of the new drummer Axel Johansson (Chevalier) gave extra boost and led on focusing more on the rhythm section too. Lyrically “Vertumnus Caesar” deals with Emperor Rudolf II, which of course was a family fucker king shit as all kings and queens, that blind your eyes and steal your dreams are, as a wise man wrote and sung once, but besides that this lazy weirdo has a legacy that has traditionally been viewed in three ways: an ineffectual ruler whose mistakes led directly to the Thirty Years’ War; a great and influential patron of Northern Manneristart; and an intellectual devotee of occult arts and learning which helped seed what would be called the Scientific Revolution (He also determined to unify Christendom, he initiated the Long Turkish War (1593–1606) with the Ottoman Empire; Later exhausted by war, his citizens in Hungary revolted in the Bocskai Uprising, which led to more authority given to his brother Matthias. Last but not least, under his reign, there was a policy of toleration towards Judaism).

So as the simple but nice artwork suggests Malokarpatan draw inspiration by the weird’s King love for sciences and alchemy as he also patronised natural philosopherssuch as the botanist Charles de l’Ecluse, and the astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler that both attended his court. Tycho Brahe developed the Rudolphine Tables(finished by Kepler after Brahe’s death), the first comprehensive table of data of the movements of the planets. As mentioned earlier, Rudolf also attracted some of the best scientific instrument makers of the time, such as Jost Bürgi, Erasmus Habermel and Hans Christoph Schissler. They had direct contact with the court astronomers and through the financial support of the court were economically independent to develop scientific instruments and manufacturing techniques.

Highlights: the natural-“analog” 80’s production, “Kočár Postupuje Temnomodrými Dálavami Na Juhozápad” (translated to “The Carriage Moves Through the Dark Blue Valleys to the Southwest”) with its galloping rhythm and the Metalucifer-esque riff, “Vovnútri Chlácholivého Útočišta Kunstkamru” with its N.W.O.B.H.M. vibe (translated to “Inside the Withering Refuge of the Kunstkamru”), the Eastern spirituality that “Maharal a Golem”spurts and the closer to Black Metal tracks that close emphatically the album “Mnohoraké Útrapy Milostpána Kelleyho” (translated to “The Many Tribulations of Mercy Kelley”) and “I Hle, Tak Zachádza Imperiálna Hviezda”.

Giorgos Tsekas
Giorgos Tsekas
"Κάποτε Όταν Θα ‘χουμε Καιρό... Θα Σκεφτούμε Πάνω Στις Ιδέες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Στοχαστών, Θα Θαυμάσουμε Τους Πίνακες Όλων Των Μεγάλων Ζωγράφων, Θα Γελάσουμε Με Όλους Τους Χωρατατζήδες, Θα Φλερτάρουμε Όλες Τις Γυναίκες, Θα Διδάξουμε Όλους Τους Ανθρώπους" Μπ. Μπρεχτ

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