I think this band are truly unique and I am pleased to report on this their third album. Malokarpatan are from Slovakia and wander the dark corners of black metal, but with so much more depth. On their debut ‘Stridžie dni’ was more black than most, their follow up ‘Nordkarpatenland’ had a massive NWoBHM influences combined with black metal and even folk. This third release takes the listener into their witching metal, wander lusting space and shade (as described by the PR blurb). Their lyrics are of folklore and witchcraft, their music in summary is black heavy metal. I’ve seen some varied responses to this band, my best advice is take your time and come up with your own decision.

The album title roughly translates to ‘The Fires of Krupina’ and is a concept based on real and magical events that took place in the town of Krupina in the 17th Century where a coven of witches dwelled and instilled fear that eventually leading to their fiery deaths by administration of the Catholic Church. The band describe the music as being obscure black/heavy metal in foundation (typical of ex-Iron Curtain/Eastern Bloc countries) with the adventurous spirit of ‘70’s progressive rock albums and blazing traditional metal guitar solos. It is worth noting, there are 5 tracks, and that’s nearly 50 minutes of music – loads of bang for your bucks. Overall, there is no complacency, there is much to delve into, perhaps overwhelming in some respects, but this release keeps you hooked. The bassist now handles the vocals, this does change the feel of the music, and there is a big echo/reverb reaction to the sound, resulting in the delivery been majestically appropriate.

The tranquil opening track ‘In Birchen Groves Near Babiná the Netherworld Magnate Has Been Appearing To Us’ soon introduces wooden percussion instruments before unleashing a behemoth of black metal blasts part way through. Then as typical as a concept album, the mood changes, up and down, its well written and executed. The blackened art is much more in your face for the second track ‘From the Semen of the Hanged, A Magical Root Arises’. Much more up-tempo and to the point, a stunning collective which still manages to add thoughtful instrumentation pieces within.

I do hope that with the full releases, there is clarity and explanation behind the lyrics and tales being told. I don’t want to regurgitate everything here, but the PR material supplied is fantastic as it explains the songs then gives the lyrics. Matŭš S. Ďurčik, a graphic designer and artist from Slovakia who worked well with the historical concept of this release completed the artwork. The band explained that his understanding of the dreamy idyll of a pastoral world and the sinister elements of the folklore involved in the bands lyrics lays at the heart of Malokarpatan’s work. The closing track ‘The Fires of Krupina…’ is a great ending to a deep involving quintet of tracks. Their “gang” vocals a reminder that they inject humour into their art as well as the terrific mature approach to their current song writing. There is a touch of everything in their influences, Bathory, Darkthrone, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest; yes, it that varied and they are all very relevant.

As the band have done since their debut, Malokarpatan are a band I have really connected with. The black metal stance and the in depth feeling produced in the music and lyrical content is truly mind bending and very gripping. This release follows the path of their former, but this one really expands your mind and gives you everything in terms of musical craft, the emotion it provides and the stance and quality of the overall story portrayed. I do not delve much into this field, but these musicians are at the top of the game. This release is original and really keeps you entertained. A stroke of genius in my mind. As they say, its delirium-inducing iconoclasm, these are epic stories portrayed in a most original manner.

(9.5/10 Paul Maddison)