Review: Welicoruss – Siberian Heathen Horde

Welicoruss, a symphonic black metal band named after the ancient North-Eastern part of Russia, has been around for quite a while already. Being formed in 2002, although formed might not be the correct term considering it was initially a one-man project, in Novosibirsk in the notorious Russian province of Siberia the first few years passed in relative silence, with a single demo, Wintermoon Symphony, as the only public feat of arms. Then, after a few years, the one-man band began to develop in a multi-member band and things started rolling, although there has been an extensive amount of changes in personnel over the years. The current lineup consists of Alexey Boganov as vocalist, Ilya Tabachnik on drums and as backing vocalist, Tomaš Magnusek on bass and Tomas Nesrs on guitar. They also changed their home base to Prague in the Czech Republic. After releasing two demos, an EP, a compilation and three full-lengths they are now ready to let the world get acquainted with their latest creation, another full-length titled Siberian Heathen Horde.

The tribal drums accompanied with ritualistic sounding vocals that introduce both the album opener Spellcaster and the entire release immediately get you riled up for what will come next. Being one of the best songs on the album, arguably the best even, the guys from Welicoruss waste no time showing you what they are capable of. Spellcaster is a highly varied, intense, black metal spiced song that hosts both subtlety as raw power, with the vocals that range from clear to growling as the most striking aspect, although, in all honesty, every single aspect of this song is great. Some way to start an album! This general song concept, loads of variety in atmosphere, speed and power all combined into an organic, coherent whole, is applied to all songs, though in various extents. There’s the slightly darker, slower and raw approach like in Siberian Heathen Horde and Tree of Nations or the more uprising, more symphonic sounding Spellcaster and Frostbounded. Despite the seemingly big changes between these types of approaches you’ll never consciously notice them as the release in its entirety is perfectly balanced and the transitions are fluently executed creating a natural logical flow. Added for extra effects are occasional guitar solos, various arrangements, some key work and a few acoustic-sounding parts. And then there’s the odd duck, which is called Crossroad of Life, an orchestral piece which, by means of atmosphere, perfectly depicts the choice made by whoever comes across this particular crossroad.

All in all there’s no other way to describe Welicoruss’ Siberian Heathen Horde as a great release. It offers pleasantly composed, expertly executed symphonic and melodic metal songs with distinct black and folk metal influences, without being either too dark or too jolly. The vocals range covers all but high pitched singing and high pitched screams, which to me is exactly the range I like in my music. The guitars are tight most of the time, but are allowed to wander off more than once, resulting in more frolicking guitar lines and a few solos. The bass is discretely though determinatively present with its tight lines, as is often the case. I personally wouldn’t mind it getting a bit more spotlight time, but despite this it’s strongly taken care of throughout the entire release. The drums are tight as well, even when at full speed. There’s not too many repetitive combos embedded in the songs, not even at high speed, which makes things even more interesting. With a production that does justice to the music this is a release I can only recommend.

Here you can also read our 27th part of Promoting Bands, including Welicoruss.

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