|Review: Tchornobog - Tchornobog|
Label: Fallen Empire Records
Year released: 2017
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: July 3, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (5 Votes)
Tchornobog is one of a handful of projects run by sole member Markov Soroka, who seems to have a reputation for working in the more experimental edges of Black Metal. Taking its name from an obscure Slavic god of evil that may not have actually existed, this project's self-titled debut is sort of a concept album where the titular Tchornobog represents a Lovecraftian horror of madness and destruction that manifests itself through the suffering of every living thing, a concept that's pretty well presented on the excellent cover art. Now, super productive musicians with a load of one-man projects that have a thing for experimentation and grand thematic concepts are a lot more common than that description would lead you to believe they are, and a lot of them end up missing the mark in their attempts to be innovative or, you know, good. While I can't speak for Soroka's other works, I can say that Tchornobog is definitely one of the projects that actually hits their lofty ambitions.
Many experimental Black Metal acts toil under the long shadow cast by Deathspell Omega, and Tchornobog certainly take influence from them in the blasting dissonant sections, but the real cornerstone of their sound is The Ruins of Beverast, specifically the menacing, Doom laden soundscapes and muddy, religiously overtoned lyrical direction of Foulest Semen of a Sheltered Elite. That said, Tchornobog have a vision and approach all their own, often complementing the harsh, aggressive pummeling of their faster sections with horns and cellos while making room for moodier segments with stirring melodies that coil in on themselves and even give way to a freaking saxophone solo near the beginning of the third track (I am not typing out those song titles). I'd talk individual tracks, but it's clear from the numerical naming scheme to the smooth transitions and reprisals found throughout that this is all meant to be taken as a single experience, with each part building on a different aspect of their sound while spinning into strange new directions that are both surprising and completely logical. I will say that the first track maybe doesn't have enough focus to justify being 20 minutes long, but it's never boring, and the last two songs in particular are fully worthy of being on the album they take inspiration from, which is honestly among the best compliments I can give to a Black Metal album, period.
This album ate me alive. I found myself trying to grasp how to talk about it only to realize my biggest motivation for putting this review off was so I could listen to it again, as every time I visited it, I found something new, something startling, individual, and sometimes deeply moving. There aren't many bands that can make music with such power, but Tchornobog are absolutely one of them, and if this really is just the beginning for them, I expect the next album to be masterful, and I doubt I'll be wrong about that. A true gem of the underground.
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