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Romuvos – The Baltic Crusade Award winner

Romuvos
The Baltic Crusade
by Rory Kuczek at 17 August 2020, 2:05 PM

Hailing from Berlin, Germany come forth ROMUVOS, a folk and Viking metal band. The project began in 2014, and have produced three full length albums, with their most recent album, “The Baltic Crusade” which came about June of this year. The album documents several battles throughout the 13th century that are important to Lithuanian history and peoples of the Baltic region. Each track tells a story of and interprets a specific battle. It is a truly fascinating album indeed, yet instrumentally and production wise, it seemed to be flawless. Though it did sound like other projects in the genre, it kept a flow that other bands lose too often enough.

In a fluted folk melody, a man calls the villagers dressed in natural dyes to come the village square. “Saule (1236)” begins with the lower tuned melody of the guitars. The voices harmonize and the short lived guitars cease for a moment’s time before beginning again. All the instrumentation is carefully plotted and blended. The track dances in a memorable rhythm, and the drums are keep a constant pace. Guitars are not too complex but serve as a way to keep the steadiness of ideas. A flute is reintroduced in the ending parts of the song.

The nyckelharpa plays a simple but serene folk tune in “Memel (1257),” while voices sound in notes rather than words. A thunder storms and a man and woman come into the village square with hats upon their heads. They hold hands and look round them to see the crowd of peoples swarming. The ground is damp and they both dressed in sheer plainclothes. The track morphs its understanding into a complex layers of fluted notes, and low chanting. The fascinating instrumentation, which I cannot adequately identify, is emphasized as a voice enunciates the depths of their language. Guitars are darkened and drums are not too complex as to focus on the feeling of the piece.

In an ancestral beginning, “Skuodas (1259)” starts with men chanting in a slow talk. The man and the woman are faced with two men in armor coming towards them. They grasp the couples’ arms and lure them up to the stoned castle a walk from the village square. The villagers failed to speak, except for the woman’s child. In a BATHORY-like land, a man harmonizes over a very similar guitar and drum atmosphere as the previous tracks. It is powerful, yet predictable, and this works well to their style. Abrupt and intentional stops are featured with dull growls, and flute noises. Their lead chorus carries the track through.

In “Durbe (1260),” rain shatters the atmosphere and floods the streets as the man and his wife are situated in a meeting hall. The man talked of a serpent while the woman talked of her making amour. The track continues as it did before, while the guitars exhibit more personality into black metal territory. The voice is heavier, forceful and serious, with ‘hey’ chants developing a thorough connection. The drums are energetic for a track that is somber and historically empowered. A flute drains chaotically onto the faces of the song.

Drums ancestrally beat in “Pokarwis (1261)” whilst a charismatic flute follows from this. The water trickles over the ankles of the husband and wife the following day. The villagers crowd to the water’s edge and watch them swim in silence. A man’s voice harmonizes with a lower voice as he sings over this calmness. The guitars and simple synths exemplify a nature that is rooted in beauty and placidness. This evolves into a developed hymn of voices and instrumentation created and combined with smoothness. The feelings evoked is so enthusiastic that the woman’s eyes begin to tear.

In “The Baltic Crusade,” a dark synth rises above the skyline which seamlessly morphs into the guitars with such fluidity. As if FALKENBACH and ENSIFERUM’s softer songs combined, this track would be the end creation. The guitars keep the similar ideas as before, yet the voice guides in a deeper and whimsical manner. A flute climbs and falls in a simpler yet effective tone. As the piece reigns on it is more musically driven until it falls to a riot and acoustic guitar notes.

The wind blows viciously around the village in the morrow, and the horses and sheep make their awakening sounds. Similar to the last piece, in “Lubawa (1263)” a man’s voice harmonizes with the lower parts of the guitar. As the song progresses, this morphs into a chorus of higher pitched notes and the flute melody carries the majestic nature forwards into the depths. This fades away leaving room for atmospheric synths and the simpler instrumental melodies before delving back into this. Thumping sounds connect to the time period. The pattern of the notes with the vocals leaves room for an extremely fascinating combination.

In “Karuse (1270),” a woman speaks in her native tongue surrounded by earthly sounds, and a flute guides the listener from this. Out of the morning fog, a man’s men storm the village in the villagers’ slumber. They awaken to see silver and beards of a foreign land. The track gains heat as it evolves from the gloominess of their eerie notes. The guitars guide the notes onto an even plane with the ideas of the voice following closely along. The pattern of the drums remain a bit ancestral. The piece ends in a solitude as the men leave, and the village is scattered and destroyed.

Aizkraukle (1279)” begins ancestrally with men shouting and a historical drum beat. A man’s voice carries the song through as voices sound under this in cleanliness. The village’s men go after the group and chase them into the streams where the water has no direction. The flute repeats itself often enough, and parts of the track do the same but in different reformulations. The guitars finally gain some type of characteristic rather than being leads. The track breaks down, and a man’s voice sings in sadness while a harp strings under harsh pagan whispers. The men fight on and without paying a close attention, they begin to sink beneath the water’s surface until they drown in the freshwater never to be found again. The chanting of the sounds continue on with a more ethereal understanding. The woman sees her baby cry from the island they stood upon to the mainland, and they disappear in the mountains.

ROMUVOS’ “The Baltic Crusade” is a wonderous tale of days past and an importance that is unbeknownst to many. The historical interpretation is not only carefully crafted but it is exceptionally designed musically. The guitars flow at a steady pace, the drums are plotted rhythmically so, the flute-like instrumentation blends evenly, and the voice is whimsical. This project has proved itself and their listeners will be greatly invested.

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

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Saule (1236)
2. Memel (1257)
3. Skuodas (1259)
4. Durbe (1260)
5. Pokarwis (1261)
6. The Baltic Crusade
7. Lubawa (1263)
8. Karuse (1270)
9. Aizkraukle (1279)
Lineup:
Velnias - Vocals, Keyboards, Classic Guitars, Percussion
Blackbard - Lead guitar, Nyckelharpa, Jaw Harp, Flute, Percussions, Bagpipe
Ofer - Rhythm Guitars
Ąžuolas - Bass
Morax – Drums
Record Label: Dangus Productions
     


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