Those of you who really know me know that I hate the news, politics, watermelon, NBA basketball, God, and people. So much so that I hate talking about them or hearing about them. And for those of you that thought we were sharing a mutual conversation on these topics, I hate to break it to you, we weren’t. So, it’s odd for Doc Grier to mention any such topics in a review. Even if he has nothing to say about an album, he can find something other than current events to talk about. For instance, why are Raisinets a thing? Will a shark kill me one day? Et cetera. That said, this whole pandemic thing is hard to ignore. No matter who you are or where you live, everyone is being asked to stay home from a job that they may not get to come back to. Or… living it up with their family in a mansion whose walls sport the fashionable 2020 Vintage Toilet Tissue Wallpaper. Then there’re others of us that push on like nothing is happening.1 Regardless of your dilemma, this shit has come out of nowhere and I-just-went-in-for-eggs-and-left-after-four-hours-because-only-ten-people-were-allowed-into-the-store-at-one-time is a thing.2 Everyone’s upset and no one knows what’s gonna happen next. Funny enough, that’s the perfect attitude to have for Malokarpatan‘s newest masterpiece, Krupinské ohne.
But, in this case, I don’t mean “upset” as “disappointing.” No no no, good Covid-er. Krupinské ohne3 is fucking good.4 If you remember Nordkarpatenland, my #5 pick of 2017, it was a mindfuck from beginning to end. Its ten tracks explore the realms of Iron Maiden and Mercyful Fate, working in brutal black metal, odd-ball soundclips, and the strangest combination of woodwinds/orchestration I’ve heard since Sigh. It has atmospheres and oddities, yet never strays far from an actual song structure. But, “fuck all that,” Krupinské ohne says. Fuck. All. That.
Though this new record is almost the same length as its predecessor, it only consists of five fucking tracks. Yup, you can breathe a sigh of relief that you know how to read the English language. I said, five fucking tracks. But, do you expect it to sound like five fucking tracks? Fuck no. It sounds like ten or twelve. This is due to the restless nature of the band and their love for RIFFS. Opener “V brezových hájech poblíž Babinej zjavoval sa nám podsvetný velmož”5 is exactly that. Beginning with orchestral passages that send you back into a Marx Brothers movie before the guitars arrive, the atmospheres build, and the backing choirs scream of Hammerheart/Blood Fire Death-era Bathory. As the song progresses, you find the rocking blackness of modern-era Darkthrone mixed with the melodic riffage of Dissection. Combine spacey key work and swampy slowness with pirate-metal-esque acoustic guitars6 and Iron Maiden-powered distortions, and you have one hell of a finale.
The two follow-up tracks are every bit as mindfucking. “Ze semena viselcuov čarovný koren povstáva” uses the old-school speed and groove of Darkthrone and Hellhammer to contrast the Jew’s harp, acoustic interludes, and Asian-inspired atmospheres. It’s a witch’s brew of sights, sounds, and smells that explode into one of the best riffs on the record.7 “Na černém kuoni sme lítali firmamentem,” though, begins where the last track left off. That’s until it unleashes the filthiest, Midnight rocker of the record. But, right when you think the groove and direction of the song start to make sense, it tickles your chin with the bassy, spaciness of Spock’s Beard. Good luck making any sense out of that.
Then the album comes full circle—incorporating Bathory into the disc’s closer. Though it takes some time to get there. First, it tramples through acoustic guitar segments, melody-soaked riffage, and more Iron Maiden-meets-Mercyful Fate rifferisms. After cruising through Bathory easiness and old-school Annihilator-like guitar leads, it ends with Spanish-styled guitars and the soothing, yet ominous, sounds of a crackling fire.
Krupinské ohne is not at all what I expected. To go from an album of many to an album of few is no small feat. Malokarpatan stacks riffs upon riffs across seven-to-thirteen-minute numbers in an unexpected way when compared to Stridžie dni and Nordkarpatenland. That said, it’s brilliant. It’s only downfalls being the safe, black “Filipojakubská noc na Štangarígelských skalách” and the drunken, karaoke choruses of the closer. For others, the biggest downfall will be the time invested, as it takes a few spins to absorb the content. Thankfully, the record is quite dynamic and not a single note or voice becomes buried in the mix. So, you think you know Malokarpatan, huh? Think again.8
- I don’t mean that in a dickish “you lazy, fucking losers” sort of way. It’s the nature of my job. ↩
- Also, there are no eggs. ↩
- To no one’s surprise. ↩
- And by “good,” I mean “great.” For all you strung-out sonsofbitches that take one fucking word from a review to craft snarky responses instead of reading its entirety. ↩
- Say that ten times fast. ↩
- I have no other way of describing them. ↩
- Is that a fucking tambourine in the background? ↩
- Band Photo o’ the Year right there. – Steel ↩