It’s a testament to the absurdity of the modern extreme metal spectrum that an album called Tchornobog is one of Bandcamp’s best-selling albums from the genre in recent weeks. Nevertheless, whilst it’s admittedly weird artwork looks like someone who has never read Lord Of The Rings was asked to paint Mordor, Tchornobog holds some impressive songwriting prowess. After all, a genre that celebrates bands like Alestorm and Amon Amarth can’t be too picky when it comes to gimmickry, and putting aside the fact that this album claims to be “a result of heavy meditation in a desert landscape from the perspective of a vessel mountain which harbours a nest for the Mind’s Eye to be imprisoned” (because who knows what that even means), the four expansive tracks that comprise the debut album from Markov Soroka (of Aureole fame)’s solo venture are each striking in their own way.
The succinctly named ‘II: Hallucinatory Black Breath Of Possession (Mountain-Eye Amalgamation)’ is the album’s shortest track, just breaking the twelve-minute mark, highlighting the grandiose scope on display here. Tchornobog’s tracks frequently comprise swirling vortexes of extreme metal more gory and guttural than anything heard since Death’s Scream Bloody Gore (the first track even ends with inhuman retching), often wielding a fatiguing degree of continuous blistering power that’s cavernous and, at times, ponderously experimental.
Tchornobog is as metal as metal gets – gruesomely heavy with old school death metal-esque artwork, an extravagant concept, an unpronounceable name shared with a Slavic deity, and song titles so long that if this writer were paid per word to write this, he would definitely name them all in full. It may unashamedly embrace existing tropes, but the album is also wary of succumbing to repetition or mimicry of what has come before.
Fiery riffs dominate proceedings, sure, but across the album, chilling melodies are skilfully sprinkled into its grotesque melting-pot of metal subgenres. Moments of restraint also crop up, most notably on the slower and more emotionally-inclined ‘III: Non-Existence’s Warmth (Infinite Natality Psychosis)’, where a saxophone solo makes an unexpected appearance.
“The purpose of the project is to assume the body as an empathetic creature to understand both the self and the attempts to find meaning in the world,” Soroka ambitiously claims. It’s unlikely to give such an impression to most listeners, but Tchornobog is a technically proficient and engulfing piece of music with atmospheric and metallic weight in equal measure.
Tchnorobog is out now on Fallen Empire Records, I, Voidhanger Records and Auditory Hallucinations. Purchase here.
Words: George Parr