Munruthel: CREEDamage

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Munruthel: CREEDamage
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Munruthel: CREEDamage
Folk Metal, Symphonic Black Metal
Svarga Music
November 12th, 2012
Release length: 60:02
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Originally starting out as a Dark Ambient project, Ukraine’s one man band Munruthel eventually made the switch over to a blend of Folk and Symphonic Black Metal. Formed in 1997, this solo act from the lone band member of the same pseudonym issued four full-length efforts over the years, most recently The Dark Saga in 2011. For 2012, fans are treated to yet another new album by the name of CREEDamage. But, does this album have what it takes to become a necessity for fans of either style, or is it destined to remain forever in the unacknowledged underground?

Right off the bat, CREEDamage shows off a crystal clear production quality, though one that hasn’t really lost its bite. The bass comes through rather loudly with a deeper presence that the varied clean and muffled and sometimes uninspiring sharper guitar chords often play off of quite well. The keyboards come in at an equally high volume level, suiting the overall production well, increasing the atmosphere of the Folk world exponentially, even during the Black Metal performances. The same goes for the vocals, and even the spoken word samples that appear in some songs, coming through crisp and with a commanding, often energetic presence. The drums, however, can be atrocious. While the the booming snares and deep click of the bass kicks are fantastic, the cymbals are a little distracting, especially on songs like “Rolls of Thunder from Fiery Skies” when the pace amps up and there’s a stronger focus on them, taking away all bite to the point of sterilization.

There are plenty of instrumental pieces that will make you believe this is a high budgeted album. “Ardent Dance of War’s God” kicks things off with what sounds like an intoduction ripped from a large Hollywood blockbuster, establishing the war theme quite well with booming drums and an epic build in the symphonics that sounds restrained, but just continues to expand until it bleeds into “Rolls of Thunder from Fiery Skies.” “The Age of Heroes” is a somber, reflective piece with the symphonics passing by as if a wind carrying the tales of fallen warriors for a little more than half the song before it suddenly picks up to a climactic score, bracing the listener for an impending battle, bleeding into “The Lake” quite well thanks to a very suiting environment. There’s also “Krada I: The Blood,” which is a beautiful symphonic Folk piece that utilizes the rest of the instruments a lot more than just being a dynamic film score. Obviously linked with the two additional parts that follow, the material grows darker, and even more pressing the further you delve into them, such as with “Krada II: The Fire,” which sounds more like a building ablaze during the climax of a battle that wraps up the release on an emotional level that builds from the aggressive start of the recording.

Of course, given the Ambient roots of the group, such dynamic instrumentals are pretty much expected. The keyboards play a pivotol role throughout the album, and do take away from some of the shortcomings. “Rolls of Thunder from Fiery Skies” does suffer from the uninspiring guitar distortion that can sometimes even sound like the effect from the Transformers cartoon series when the robots go from vehicle to robot, such as during the title track “CREEDamage,” and even the high digital production. it’s also hard to ignore the evident Waylander influence that does exist when the Folk Metal becomes richer and faster, especially around the four minute mark when you might suddenly believe you’re listening to the latest Alestorm single. However, this shows how well Munruthel can weave stunningly epic Folk Metal with some blackened sections thrown in.

“The Mown Dawns Lie on the Ground” is another prime example, and more of a unique one. The symphonics add a grand touch to the material that slips in and out with more aggressive and faster riffs. Again, the cymbals can become a problem at times, but the rich intensity and beautiful atmospheres, as well as guest vocals from Masha (Arkona) sound fantastic, as does Wulfstan (Forefather) on the cover of Bathory‘s “The Lake,” a phenomenal tribute to a fantastic track that greatly benefits from the additional symphonic elements that this act carries with it. This creates a far more emotional piece that can bring even the most seasoned Metal veteran to his knees, especially in the chorus.

CREEDamage is a surprisingly well executed album that fans of Black Metal or Folk Metal may take interest in. While it’s far from anything too original, clearly showing off the groups that helped to inspire this rather epic opus, there’s still enough solid, and even moving material to keep the listener coming back for more. Despite the audio clarity, less than impressive guitar distortions, and the issues with the cymbals, Munruthel continues to expand it’s Symphonic Black Metal influence quite impressively, all the while not forgetting where the group started. If you haven’t checked this one man act out by now, then CREEDamage is something well worth checking out at some point.

01. Ardent Dance of War’s God – 2:28
02. Rolls of Thunder from Fiery Skies – 5:56
03. CREEDamage – 7:15
04. The Mown Dawns Lie on the Ground – 5:14
05. The Age of Heroes – 5:01
06. The Lake (Bathory cover) – 6:45
07. The Eyes of Abyss – 5:17
08. Carpathians’ Shield – 6:08
09. Krada I: The Blood – 7:40
10. Krada II: The Surya – 4:06
11. Krada III: The Fire – 4:12
Initial Pressing Score: 8/10

Munruthel (band)
Munruthel

Digital review copy of this release provided by Svarga Music via Clawhammer PR.