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Malokarpatan - Krupinské Ohne Award winner

Krupinské Ohne
by Martin Knap at 03 March 2020, 8:03 PM

Slovakia’s MALOKARPATAN have been making waves in the past few years with their distinctive take on old-school Heavy Metal, their sophomore “Nordkarpatenland” certainly got them noted, and they regularly perform at festivals and clubs abroad – probably more than any other Slovakian band, at least as far as I can think of (them and the Thrash/Crossover band ČAD are maybe close in terms of recognition). The band’s members all come from the local Black Metal scene, which, if you ask me, has some really underappreciated band (REMMIRATH, KROLOK, and ALGOR – bands associated with MALOKARPATAN – but also NEVALOTH, PORENUT, or ABBEY OV THELEMA are underrated bands).

The band’s sound is rooted in 80s Heavy Metal, Doom Metal and proto-Black Metal, and they blend all of these styles into a coherent whole in a way that sounds fresh and unique. There is a bit of Epic Doom and mid-era BATHORY, some First Wave of Black Metal riffs borrowed from bands like VENOM or MASTER’S HAMMER, but some of the riffs and lead melodies have a NWOBHM kind of drive. “Krupinské ohne” is the band’s third album, and it’s being released three years after “Nordkarpatenland”.  So far this is the band’s most ambitious record, it’s a concept album about witch trials, and due to the progressive songwriting, the rich atmosphere and production (there are many film dialogue samples or snippets of orchestral music etc.) it feels cinematic in scope.

V brezových hájech…” (I’m not spelling out the whole song titles, they are really long) is a 13 minutes long epic and it takes its time to build the atmosphere:  opens with a clip with soothing orchestral music from some kind of big budget historical movie (I think that all the clips are from the movie “Witchhammer,” directed by Otakar Vávra, but that’s only my guess), and only after that comes a somber guitar intro. The song has a mid-tempo, groovy verse which has a strong BATHORY vibe, and there are short acoustic breaks between the verses. There is a compositional shift in the middle of the song: it starts with some primitive Black Metal riffing and a blasty drum beat (this particular part sounds to me like straight out of MASTER’S HAMMERRitual” after the Black Metal part comes a long but very dynamic and amazingly arranged atmospheric section, the climactic finale of the song has some driving, melodic riffs backed by a Hammond organ.

All the other four other songs are amazingly written and it feels like they a part of a larger whole. Two songs (track number two and the final song “Krupinské ohne …”) are long, the other two ale mid-length. All of them have a captivating, lingering atmosphere and are totally – excuse the use of such boomer term, but there’s no other way of putting it – rifftastic. I love the quirky riffs in “Ze semena Viselcuov…,” which remind me of MASTER’S HAMMER more recent output (I know I reference this band a lot, but since they are Czech they’ve influenced MALOKARPATAN quite bit I think). “Filipojakubská noc …” has a dark, atmospheric opening, but ends with a nice driving NWOBHM riff and beautiful lead guitar playing. The verse of “Krupinské ohne poštyrikráte teho roku vzplanuli” with a galloping Speed Metal riff kind of rumbles along but is followed by a big, catchy, almost sing-along chorus, which really takes you by surprise. This is also a long epic with dynamic shifts, interesting instrumental arrangements and great lead melodies.

I knew that MALOKARPATAN were a great band and that they wouldn’t release a dud, but this surpassed my expectations, it’s great to see a band evolve their sound and reaching new creative heights. MALOKARPATAN is not just a retro-Heavy Metal band, they borrow building blocks (riffs) from the past and use them in a creative, original way. I think “Krupinské ohne” is going to be an essential album of 2020, because it has everything that makes a Heavy Metal album great: riffs, atmosphere, interesting songwriting, outstanding instrumental and vocal performances, a dynamic and lively production, and let’s not forget the well written lyrics, which are in Slovakian, but I’m sure that at least those who buy the album on a physical copy will get an English translation as well. Don’t miss this!

Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 9
Musicianship: 9
Production: 10

4 Star Rating

1. V brezových hájech poblíž Babinej zjavoval sa nám podsvetný velmož
2. Ze semena viselcuov čarovný koren povstáva
3. Na černém kuoni sme lítali firmamentem
4. Filipojakubská noc na Štangarígelských skalách
5. Krupinské ohne poštyrikráte teho roku vzplanuli
HV - Guitars, Vocals
As - Guitars, Vocals (backing), Other Instruments
Peter - Bass, Wind instruments
Frogbuzzer Miroslav - Drums
Aldaron  - Guitars
Record Label: Invictus Productions


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