Published on Monday, 03 April 2017 18:23
Album title: Kri Gotove Smrti
Release date: 13 February 2017
01. Korpus Smrti
02. Reka Gori
03. Sel Zla
08. XV Obzorje
“Cas se izteka, konec je blizu, meja med živim in mrtvim bledi!” (Time is running out, the end is near, the line between the living and dead is fading!)
After playing numerous gigs in their home country Slovenia since 2012, Valuk released in December 2014 their first self-titled EP. Valuk was formed in the old Slovenian mining town Idrija and the line-up consist of four members, Blaž Čuk on rhythm guitar and vocals, Blaž Tratnik (bass), Boštjan Vidmar (drums) and Uroš Sedej (guitar lead). Now the band finally released their debut album named Kri Gotove Smrti (Blood of Certain Death). An album consisting of eight tracks infectious till the bones.
The melodies trap you and drag you into the ancestral ages of Slovenian heritage. A mysterious country full of legends that reveal itself in the often agitate history of this country. When it comes to pagan black metal it instantly comes to mind the legends of the northern lands, Vikings, Scandinavians, Norwegians and all those legends about Odin and Thor. But Valuk surprises us with a completely different thematics in their vision of pagan black metal. The band certainly can not be compared lyrically with the northern bands we are accustomed to hear. The style is unique and contagious because it tells the story of a country to many unknown. As well the name Valuk, which is the name of a Slavic duke of Carantania, who after the attempt to capture Constantinople in 626 failed, the Avars turned towards the west and attacked the territory settled by Slavs. The Slavs then united under their leader Valuk, and joined forces with Samo (the leader of a Slavic confederation of Czechs, Moravians, Slovaks and Serbs) to defend themselves against the Avars. Valuk was possibly the first Duke of Carantania. Carantania was the first Slavic state known to have been created.
The album is an instrumental story as I like to call it, because it's different from a concept album, but the lyrics are still intertwined. Valuk's music can be in a way compared to the Serbian band The Stone. The tracks are quite epic with a medium-fast to fast black metal. Powerful razor sharp guitars at certain times become melancholic with a high degree of emotional involvement that penetrates the soul. Everything is very raw with many atmospheric elements that are well explored along all of the tracks. With furious and aggressive drums, some blast beats, and a bass that for some may sound annoying, in fact, it is quite clicking and chugging, which adds value to this raw and somehow original style of black metal. Guitar riffs, which for me are one of the most important instruments because it attaches directly and emotionally to the vocals, are long and amazing.
My favorite songs... as if I could choose one once I fell in love with Valuk? Well let me just point out the most exciting and emotional to me. The first track of an album is very important, because it is through it that we can glimpse the quality proposed by bands whatever the style. "Korpus Smrti", starts with stormy noises and then a melodic guitar that for times is sad, but then .... BANG!!! What a vocal! Strong, furious and attractive, the language is very attractive to me, perhaps because I do not understand Slovenian and it is such a different language. This excites me because although I do not understand the language I feel the vocalist's emotion and I can perceive the meaning. The second track, "Reka Gori" (the river burns), already starts fast and is another great track in terms of quality and respect for the style. "Feldbahn", I really liked it because the drums are the “star of the party” here, but also everything else is just perfect.
What I like the most of the bands I analyze is the introduction of some differentiated elements, such as the effects of natural phenomena, instruments that are not so common to hear at the beginning of a song, like are the drums on "Feldbahn", which I mentioned before for example. But, these elements must respect the raw style, which should predominate and not be "swallowed" and completely deformed as if it were "him" the black metal to appear as an element.
Valuk is unique because explores another pagan culture, it is completely different from the bands we usually listen on more regular basis. This band and their album in question is now on my list of favorite releases of 2017 so far. This album surprised me in a positive and passionate way by its aggressiveness, but yet in many moments I wanted to cry. And this is what music in general needs, to be able to turn us into pure feeling, be it anger, hatred, pain, love or whatever. Welcome to the black metal world scene! Convinced of your quality, I look forward for a new EP or a full length album. Congrats Valuk!
Review written by: Felin Frost