Limited to just 999 copies and featuring four tracks, ‘Kuoltuu Kaikin Kohetah’ is the debut EP from Kazakh black metal band Scolopendra Cingulata. Released on Narcoleptica Productions, the label formed by vocalist / guitarist SS, ‘Kuoltuu..’ is raw, dark and possessed of an icy atmosphere that will appeal to fans of both Burzum and Darkthrone.
Establishing a strong presence with ‘Помрут – все хорошими станут, the band unleash their frozen riffs via a nine-minute epic. The track captures Alatar and Otis’ guitars in full flight over Waah’s throbbing bass and Aske’s relentless percussive blasts, but it is when Hulluenkeli’s mysterious keyboards emerge, some five minutes into the track, that things get interesting. Awash with atmosphere, the dark, folky keyboards add depth to the track and it’s easy to imagine the vast open spaces of the Steppe as the synths swirl around the desolate space where, only a moment before, harrowing guitars raged. The second track, ‘Ветер войны’ maintains the blistering guitar, but adopts a fiercer groove via mid-tempo percussion which lends greater weight to the riffs. The vocals remain a blackened, barely audible smear to the point that they appear to exist to add texture to the piece rather than specific lyrical weight. The lyrics are, however, printed in the accompanying booklet, but as they are in the band’s native tongue, they offer little clue as to the band’s lyrical focus to Western audiences. As an example of potent back metal fury ‘Ветер войны’ succeeds perfectly and, in some ways, the dense, barely audible screams only add to the sense of unease conjured by the track. With shimmering, frost-rimed guitars ‘Шакалы’ emerges from the depths of a furious blizzard, the track lent a greater sense of ambience courtesy of Hulluenkeli’s subtle keyboard washes. Curiously hypnotic, it mesmerises the listener as SS, barely audible form the heart of the storm, continues to exhort an unseen army to feats of terrible inhumanity. The EP concludes with the shimmering ‘Меч смерти Клеймор’, a track that opens with entirely unexpected clean guitar although it is not long until the band explode into a hate-fuelled cacophony once more as gruelling guitars and gut-wrenching screams compete to flood the senses in one last death ride. For those who hold out past the blazing flames that close the track, a hidden bonus emerges which manages to sound even more brutally raw and unhinged than the other four tracks on offer. The closest track on the EP to Darkthrone’s early music, it’s a sweet bonus albeit one that will make the unwary jump when it suddenly blasts forth.
Black metal is always a tricky genre about which to write. Wilfully extreme, the normal criteria upon which to judge an album are rendered redundant as production and even musicianship are subjugated to the needs of the overall compositional atmosphere. Those with a penchant for dark, traditional black metal will love the ferocious sounds that Scolopendra Cingulata conjure up on this EP, but it is no easy ride and only those with an unslaked thirst for the extreme need apply. 8