"Kukeri" is the third album of one-man project SVARROGH, consisting of Dimo Dimov, also drummer with German band HATRED DIVINE. As some might deduct from Dimo's name, he is Bulgarian, but he resides in Germany now and he seems to have felt a little home sick when he decided to form SVARROGH, named after the ancient Slavic god of domestic fires and the sun, because here Dimo combines harsh Black Metal with Bulgarian folklore, which on the paper reads highly interesting, as I usually am a big fan of this amalgamation.
I personally never heard the folkloric music of Bulgaria, but made very good experience with Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia (to stay in Eastern Europe), so I was eager to hear what SVARROGH had to offer. Well, to be honest, my eagerness did not pay off, because "Kukeri" is a coin with two very distinct different sides. The one side is the melodic, but pretty harsh Black Metal and the other the Folk elements, which in the ideal case are woven together to form a union of the two different parts. Unfortunately that only rarely is the case on this CD.
All too often the two extremes seem just alternated within the songs, but rarely actually connected, so that they would create a flow, instead it sounds like bits just pieced together, successfully disrupting the dynamics of the song, which is a pity, because Dimo clearly shows talent to write interesting compositions. Also detrimental is the fact that many of the songs seem unnecessarily stretched to over seven minutes, which if the quality of the foundation underneath already is crumbling does not bode well for the overall construction.
Now who knows me, also knows that I usually am not deterred by unusual approaches to music, just look at Belarus' Folk Doomsters GODS TOWER, who definitely are not mainstream or the odd beauty of Israeli masters ORPHANED LAND, but the will to differ can only get you so far and if a wonderful Folk-influenced passage is rolled over by a harsh Black Metal attack out of nowhere it just knocks you over the head and off the song. Also the almost 11 minutes of "The Solitude Of Stara Planina" showcase this in a different way, apparently trying to emulate an authentic Folk song, but failing due to it just being far too drawn out and with kind of noisy passages, which just throw you off as well. Also the fact that Dimo is the drummer of HATRED DIVINE, but here the drums at times sound extremely computerized has left me scratching my head in confusion.
Now not all hope is lost, of course, because as said, Dimo has talent and the Folk passages are the light in the darkness of this CD, as the Black Metal parts not only are too harsh to really react with the melodies, but also sound too generic in comparison. The key to success (artistic, not necessarily commercial) is relatively simple: Manage to really combine the two styles instead of just piecing them together and the results could be baffling.
For now I have to advise you to approach with caution, as I know that some big things might be on the horizon, but at the moment I just cannot recommend this...
(Online December 11, 2006)