The Romanization of the song titles are my own, so they may not fit with a specific system.
BUTTERFLY TEMPLE is Russia’s chief Folk/Pagan Metal act, so dominating their healthy scene that it’s hard to listen to any Slavic Folk/Pagent Metal band without hearing traces of BUTTERFLY TEMPLE. ARKONA, ALKONOST, TEMNOZOR’, all fine bands, but all bearing a noticeable influence from their countrymen’s trademark blend of Symphonic Black Metal, a tad of Heavy Metal and Russian Folk music, primarily in the vocals.
So “Vremya Mary” (“The Time Of Mara”) is their 2005 offering. It’s more refined than their first three, but more raw than 2003’s “Tropou Krovi Po Vole Roda!” The classical influenced guitar solos that I fell in love with on the previous album are gone and the production isn’t as clean; this album makes the conscious decision to be more true to the band’s Black Metal roots. It’s the same story you’ve heard a million times before—band starts off more extreme, progresses to a more unique sound, takes a slight step back. If there is one forward-looking change, it’s that the clean male vocals have an increased role compared to previous albums. The Black shrieks are still there, but the aren’t quite as prominent. Olga Dzusova provides female vocals on about half of the tracks, so they’ve retained that aspect.
There are some other progressions, including bits of Jazz, but they’re few and far between. I know some folks probably thought that “Tropou Krovi…!” was too much a departure from previous albums. I don’t know anybody who thinks that, but they’re always there. Anyhow, that group will be pleased with “Vremya Mary.” I enjoy the album a bit, but to me it’s a bit of a step down from the previous release. I’d rank it in the middle of BUTTERFLY TEMPLE’s discography, after “Tropou…!” and “Veles,” but ahead of “Sny Sneverogo Morya” and “Koleso Chernoboga.”
“Vremya Mary” is a good album. Unfortunately, for a band the quality of BUTTERFLY TEMPLE, it’s simply treading water. At the worst, you’ll be stuck treading water in some too-long keyboard-and-nature-sound ambient intros/outros, but at the best you’ll have a rollicking ride through the Russian forests courtesy of some folks who at once can dance (though they don’t use as many folk instruments as you’d expect) and are tr00.
Oh yeah, almost a quarter of the running time is taken up by the final track, “Podruga” (“Girlfriend” or “Darling”), which is a lie. It is three tracks! First, there is the rather generic “Podruga” itself, then covers of MOONSPELL’s “Werewolf Masquerade” and “Alma Mater”—featuring a trumpet doing some of the guitar solos! The production here is the worst, but it’s definitely worth a listen. (Online August 6, 2006)