Temnozor - _Folkstorm of the Azure Nights_
(Stellar Winter, 2006)
by: Quentin Kalis (9 out of 10)
_Horizons..._, the predecessor to Temnozor's latest offering, was an amazing album that can quite rightly be regarded as the epitome of Russian metal. Simplistic yet catchy riffs, folksy melodies accompanied by flute and clean bombastic vocals defined this landmark. Temnozor have little reason to deviate too far from this template, maintaining a consistency of sound for a band that gains and loses members more frequently than Cradle of Filth and who reputedly had up to sixteen members at one stage.

But there are some changes, the most significant of which is the downgrading of the folk elements prevalent on earlier releases in favour of both electric and acoustic guitar. But more subtle changes are noticeable as well, such as greater variety within songs.

One song in particular deserves special mention, and that is album closer "Tell Me, Ye Scarlet Dewscented Sunrises". Said to be in the style of "old archaic Russian folk poetry", it consists purely of swathes of synths and a lone tenor backed up by a group of baritone. The effect is stunning and is possibly Temnozor's most powerful moment. On the other hand, "Watch the Falcon Fly" is their weakest moment since _Sorcery Is Strengthening the Black Glory of Rus_ and overflows with cheesy sloganeering. ("Pagan Metal War!!") Is it a coincidence that this also happens to be the sole English song on the CD? The remaining songs are much, much better than this dreary exercise, but not quite as excellent as the album closer.

As far as lyrics are concerned, the translations are adequate to impart the general direction of the song, but the poetic nuances which I am assured the Russian lyrics possess seem to have been lost in translation. Yet for a band synonymous with NSBM, I detect very little overt NS content, as the lyrics seem to be primarily focused around an atavistic heathen sense of nationalism -- which is not the same as National Socialism -- and a Pagan reverence for the natural world.

While it does not quite reach the lofty heights its predecessor, _Folkstorm of the Azure Nights_ is sufficiently good to sustain Temnozors hallowed place in the pantheon of Slavic metal greats. However, with some stiff competition from Kroda and Nokturnal Mortum, Temnozor will have to try harder for the follow-up (apparently due in January 2007) if they wish to retain their prime position.

Contact: http://www.thepaganfront.com/stellarwinter/eng.html

(article published 5/10/2006)

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