FOLK METAL | L’VIV/ UKRAINE
RELEASED VIA CASUS BELLI MUSICA ON 28.07.2012
Viter are in interesting bunch. They where initially formed by Viterzgir after leaving Крода (Kroda) in 2010, the band he’d been in since the bands inception back in 2003. It didn’t take long before an EP was released entitled Dzherelo, this was a very atmospheric take on folk metal, with primarily clean baritone vocals, and lot’s of folk instruments. It seemed clear to me after hearing the first post Viterzgir Крода album, Schwarzpfad, as I’m sure it did to many other’s, that Eisenslav had been very much the brains when it came to the black metal elements, and Viterzgir was the one who knew his stuff when it came to the folk elements, as each respective release was a lot more subtle in the element the other focussed on. However in 2011 Viter’s image seemed to change completely wt what can only be described as a more industrial look. They released a split EP with King’s & Beggars which was les atmospheric than before and utilised even less black metal elements. It was clear the previous EP had been a transition piece. Fast forwards a year and Viter announce their first length album, and they give themselves a genre of their own, Folk’n’dustrial, used to describe their unusual sound.
When the year began and talks of a Viter full length appeared I was very excited, I loved the sound Viterzgir and had hoped the shift in sound on the split was due to the fact that they where collaborating with another band. But upon hearing the first 3 of the songs that had been released in the run up to the albums release (every track was released in the months before the album), my heart sunk. This wasn’t what I’d hoped to hear. It seemed even further away from that sound that I loved, it seemed a bit more whacky and to have a less coherent sound. So it’s with great trepidation that I begin listening to the complete album for the purposes of this review. I will try and remain objective, and approach it with an open mind, but for those who like me loved the debut EP, don’t get your hopes up.
The sound is quite hard to pin down, it’s like a sort of quirky folk rock really with a lot of what you might call gypsy folk elements in some of the timbres and melodies and vocal styles used, a minute and a half into the first track is a good example of this. Some song’s are quite light and bouncy, whilst others have a bit more of an industrial feel, though I use the term lightly, it is pretty much just chuggy guitars along with a rigid drum beat that give it that feel. And honestly I feel some of the riffs boarder on nu-metal territory which is never a good thing in my book. I guess one musical feature that does at times work well is the synthesised sounds that mainly pad out the harmonies. I feel they are often put to good effect. The album does have it’s more atmospheric moments like the song For the Fire, but this feels more like a ballad or something a bit different from the rest of it.
I suppose one major difference is the shift in language, the band choosing to ditch their native Ukrainian in favour of English. You’d have thought as an Englishman this would have been welcomed by me, but it isn’t at all welcome in my opinion. For a band whom folk music and tradition is clearly such a hugely important factor, even going as far as to hand craft their own folk instruments, to sing in a language not befitting of that heritage or culture seems almost insulting and at odds with everything you would have thought the band stood for. Not to mention some of the lyrics are beyond cringe worthy “oh you are so pretty” in a very seedy sounding heavily accented English accent being one example that stands out to me.
I feel like it’s a bit incoherent at times, and quite frankly it’s music that doesn’t need to be heard. Almost like they had ideas, so they stuck a few together and called it a song in an attempt to justify or facilitate those ideas, rather than writing/composing complete songs in the first place. It’s just completely uninspiring. Perhaps I’m taking it all too seriously and it’s just a nice fun and light hearted record, and perhaps I’m tainted by my love of what went before and feel as a result they are just not utilising their potential, I don’t know. I don’t want to say it’s bad, but I’m finding very little to like unfortunately. [3/10 – NEIL SLATER]