KYPCK - Cherno 3.5/5
1. Gidrolokator (Depth finder)
2. Rozhdestvo V murmanske (Christmas in Murmansk)
3. Predatel (Traitor)
5. Chernaya dyra (The black hole)
7. Ne prosti (Do not forgive)
8. Orcherednye (The usual)
9. Odin den iz zhizni yegora kuznetsova (One day of Yegor Kuznetsov's life)
Doom metal is such a broad and loosely defined subdivision, probably tying with black metal as the most eclectic bunch of styles grouped under the one umbrella, that it is practically a genre in its own right. It means emerging bands tagged under this style are often quite unpredictable, and for a comparative genre novice like myself it can make them quite difficult to describe in a few words.
Forgoing the hellish, scuzzed-out drugscapes of Electric Wizard or the power/doom histrionics of Candlemass - there's the obligatory reference out of the way – KYPCK (pronounce it "Kursk", just don't ever it spell it that way), do things quite differently. Even ignoring the obvious lyrical device to be discussed in just a minute, the music they play is quite hard to tag as sounding quite like anyone else.
The new band of Sentenced guitarist Sami Lopakka, their sound is a looming and ominous one. Low-tuned guitars alternate with regularity between simple, chugging riffs and emotive finger picked sections and creates an expansive, hollow sound that to be honest does feel a little repetitious at times. The production style utilised by Kai Hiilesmaa - also the band's drummer – contributes considerably to this atmosphere, making it sound as though they are playing in a vast, empty hangar somewhere.
Easily, and intentionally, the most obvious aspect of the KYPCK style is the lyrical approach. Sung wholly in Russian despite the band being entirely from neighbouring Finland, every song concerns an aspect of the history of the Soviet Union. Anyone whose first experience of vocalist Erkki Seppanen was his debut with power metallers Dreamtale will find him almost completely unrecognisable. The soaring, higher-range vocal style he uses in the other band is completely absent, replaced by a low, gravely tone far more suited to the gritty music.
Sentenced fans that have been in danger of cheering up in the few years since their split can take this as a cue that they can re-tie the noose, stick their head back in the oven and start hassling their doctor for those damned cyanide tablets again, as the gothic nature of the band's later years has been carried over in heavier form to create a CD of almost complete despair and depression.
"Stalingrad", featuring the only chorus non-Russian speakers will be able to attempt a sing-along to, runs on hazy, guitar-free verses led by a bass strung low enough to scrape the floor of the ocean. These sparse musical passages and the distant production couple very well with the rumbling vocals, and conjure nightmarish black-and-white images of industrial skylines straight out of old political textbooks. Even without the benefit of understanding the lyrics, the oppressively pessimistic music and thickly accented vocals get the message across on a far more basic, intuitive level.
Only the upbeat-in-a-perverse-sort-of-way Sabbath groove of "One day of Yegor Kuznetsov life" offers any sort of reprieve from the gloom, before the closing track "Demon" pulls the listener back under with a simplistic, yet incredibly emotional, 4-note guitar cry that repeats throughout before the CD fades out on the oddly chilling sounds of a man's pathetic sobbing.
It's not music for every mood or occasion (you certainly wouldn't soundtrack your housewarming party with it), and sometimes gets a little too samey for its own good, but 'Cherno' remains a powerful and unique debut from an intriguing new band that with any luck have a lot more to offer.
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