CREEDamage, immerses the listener into a world of eternal skies, gathering armies, rolling battlefields lit by torch and the violent clash of sword against sword. It’s a mythic soundtrack recorded in IMAX. It’s evocative of a warrior world that might’ve been, yet only exists in the imagination of Munruthel’s visionary, Vladislav Redkin. CREEDamage is more satisfying to the needs of every pagan metal head then many MMORPG epics.
CREEDamage isn’t the first Ukrainian pagan metal album that the uninitiated should try on for size. Thunderkraft’s Totentanz might be a better choice. Vladislav Redkin is the drummer for Thunderkraft. Munruthel is his baby though, and his mind-movie starts off with a symphony orchestra piling into his garage and blasting out the intro, “Ardent Dance of War’s God,” a masterfully scored two and a half minutes, then slips into “Rolls of Thunder Under Fiery Skies” where Munruthel finally gets to the double-kick loops and big ol’ guitar stuff.
It lasts but a minute though before the pagan maidens break into poignant folk song followed by another minute of orchestral interlude. Fret not for the metal returns for another minute of even more intense growl and rage.
It’s astonishing how many layers of melody and symphonic counter-melody Munruthel has packed into every second of each track. A good score never overwhelms and proper arrangement makes even sudden changes seem natural. From end to end, CREEDamage is a shiny example of how to do this right.
“The Mown Dawns Lie on the Ground,” obviously an opus to the plights of pagan groundskeepers after battling armies have ripped up their putting greens, alternates solid beat-driven death metal with lovely vocal breaks accompanied by a surprising harp. This is probably the highlight track as it really does incorporate the unique strengths that Redkin has used to craft this fully developed album.
A well-chosen cover of Bathory’s “The Lake” pops up out of nowhere and fits in nicely within the overall scope of CREEDamage. Wulfstan, of Forefather, performs vocals and infuses the song with a forlorn sensitivity. The careful treatment of the song focuses on melody and harmonies. It also keeps the metal attack in hot pursuit, if a bit muted.
“Carpathian’s Shield” is dedicated to a martyred white magician and faith healer. Usually only non-white magicians lose the knife fight behind the Flamingo Hotel in West Hollywood, but this wizard apparently lived on the mean streets of the Carpathians. It’s seven minutes long and opens with a mouth harp twanging away.
It is the most straightforward pagan metal song on CREEDamage, until it hits the middle eight with keyboard ambience, then gets to back ripping things up. Violin solos and guitar solos, frantic drum and triple-speed rhythm chugging drive the song to a build where Munruthel tears into his most fervent vocals on the album. It fades out on angry rhythm guitars, double-kick hammering and a flute. It ain’t pagan without the flute.
The last three tracks on CREEDamage are a tri-partite metal symphony cycle. It’s proof that Munruthel knows his way around a scoring sheet as well as a heavy metal drum kit. The whole mini-symphony is about 16 minutes long. For those that like their pagan metal straight up and stirring, CREEDamage is a wondrous achievement.
(released November 13, 2012 on Svarga Records)