Sunday, March 25, 2012

Thunderkraft - Totentanz

Svarga Music

Just when you think you’ve heard every genre tag under the sun, along comes a completely different one. And this time its Ukraine act Thunderkraft, whose music has been described as industrialised folk/death/groove metal. Given that the band have been around since 2001, and have in that time only managed to release one full-length album (2005’s ‘Знамя Победы’ or ‘The Banner Of Victory’ through Blazing Productions), I had no idea what to expect from their latest effort ‘Totentanz’. But after giving the album a few spins, the unusual genre tag made sense, and I was pleasantly surprised by what the Kharkiv based band had to offer on their latest release.
The four-piece act (Comprising of vocalist/guitarist/flutist Master Alafern, bassist Sigurd, flutist/keyboardist Anna Merkulova and drummer Munruthel) immediately let you know exactly what constitutes industrialised folk/death/groove metal with the opening track ‘Настане час’ (‘A Time Will Come’). Industrial elements come in the form of atmospheric/symphonic keyboards, the groove comes from the underpinned grooving guitar riffs, the death metal aspect is driven primarily from the diverse vocals and the folk elements are dotted throughout the song via traditional key progressions and the use of flutes and violins. It’s a strange mix of influences, but somehow the band make it all work throughout the song, without making anything stick out as unnecessary or tacked on. The only real issue is that at seven and a half minutes long, the song does drag a little towards the end.
From here, Thunderkraft show a lot of diversity in their music, with ‘Дефект масс’ (‘Mass Defect’) drifting more towards latter day Samael musically with its thick keyboards atmospherics, subtle industrial overtones and predominately growled vocals, while the title track ‘Totentanz’ (‘Dance Of The Dead’) pushes the electronics of the former track even further, giving the band a sound that veers more towards a electronic version of Rammstein.
Despite sounding competent musically (Apart from the folk/pirate inspired keyboards around the two/thirds mark), the harsh vocals (Sung in Ukrainian, Russian or German) on ‘Смерть не роз’єднає нас’ (‘Death Won’t Separate Us’) loses something in its delivery. The same can be said for the cinematic ‘Навстречу новой заре’ (‘Towards A New Dawn’), while ‘Смятая повесть’ (‘A Crumpled Story’) and the overly long ‘Творець життя’ (‘The Creator Of Life’) just simply fail to ignite in the first place, and therefore come across as a little bland compared to some of the other tracks on the album.
But while the album misfires in places, Thunderkraft do hit their intended target on the aggressive and fast paced ‘Світ майбутнього’ (‘The Future World’) and the minimalistic and somewhat strange ‘Де сон л’є вологою з вій’ (‘Where The Dream Flows As Moisture From Eyelashes’).
Thunderkraft’s music is different, challenging and downright bizarre in places, but also unique. And while not everything works throughout ‘Totentanz’, the material that does work is enough to warrant investigation from those who are after something a little left of centre, or has always wanted to know what industrialised folk/death/groove metal sounds like, but was always afraid to ask for fear of making a fool of themselves.

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© Justin Donnelly