Planet Metal #4: Ukraine!
Our monthly round up of Underground Metal bands from around the Globe has been pretty random so far with stops in Europe, South America, Russia and so a return to Eastern Europe and a region steeped in Slavic culture in Ukraine seems like a good place to be and with a population exceeding 41 million people there is bound to be some Metal there. Its safe to say that everyone should be able to name one band from the country in Progressive Metal titans Jinjer but as the average Metal Head in the street on Skull Island to name another one and there might be a few struggles so here are our five choices of bands we think you should check out…
First up we have Ethnic Groove Metal act Arhat who formed in the Ukrainian capital city Kyiv in 2017 from a group of seasoned musicians and have performed at the Black Sea Metal Festival. The key to their sound is the addition of those Ethnic elements which take the music into a similar vein as Soulfly or Shokran by embellishing Death Metal riffs with nuance. They dropped “Dead Life” back in December and with the help of a pair of session musicians in Kapshuk Kateryna (Ethnic vocals) and Petro Pavlovsky (Percussion) they have achieved a pretty impressive dynamic.
Our second choice has to be Hellfound, a band who rather than a style shift have gone through something of a thematic shift since they formed in the city of Zhytomyr in 2012. Forged from a shared interest in horror movies initially their lyrical themes often resolved around zombies and apocalyptic events, however during the bands development they have moved on to take things a little more seriously. So when it comes to the accompaniment to their lethal dosage of Groove, Death and even Thrash Metal in the present time, the sands of time have shifted in the four winds and unearthed themes based on social problems, something that rears it’s ugly head on their EP simply titled “2020“!
Wolfanger is next, a Melodic Death Metal quintet from Kyiv who formed in 2015 and who stunned us with their 2019 album “Ancients Call” while releasing several singles since. On their latest offering “Hunter & Prey” they comment: “We came up with a final vision of the song concept a long time ago. The song is about the concept of hunt. There’s a hunter and there’s a prey but no one knows who will prevail until the final moment, the chances of both are equal and prey can turn the tide and become a hunter, or nobody can survive in this stand. The song’s message is about how much a tiny random chance can do with every situation we face during our whole lives but none of us notices that. The inspiration came unexpectedly, as it usually happens (we’re sure the people with creative ways of thinking can understand us). After releasing a Wolfheart cover Mr Tuomas Saukkonen (the Wolfheart’s mastermind) has invited our vocalist Petro Solovey to record a guest vocal for their upcoming track Skull Soldiers. That was a chance to let every metalhead in the world know about us and inspire us to create a lot of cool songs.“
Taking Death Metal and injecting Doom Metal into it to give us an atmosphere shrouded in the darkness of oppression, Mental Torment, who feature in their ranks former members of I Miss My Death, Thy Despair and Endlesshade, bring us some of the bleaker burnt offerings from the Ukrainian scene and do the name they have take for themselves justice. They released their bone shattering debut album “On The Verge” back in 2013 and after a four year hiatus they returned in 2019 with their original line up intact to plague us once more with a new album in the works.
Some of you might remember Chainsaw Jack as a character from Resident Evil but they are also a Sludge Metal band from Kharkiv who feature in their ranks members of To Murder Drive and Frostbite. They all have a common bond with influences in both Metal and Hardcore in particular a mutual love of Crowbar, Pantera and Hatebreed. After spending 5 years at the grindstone and releasing an EP “Demo Recordings 2015-2017” they’ve been hard at work on their debut album which, we’re reliably informed will see release in 2021. Here’s the slow crush of “Zeros” so you can get a flavour for what they’re about.