A dive in deeper waters…
Is one of the most entertaining metal YouTubers capable of making great black metal?
If you, like me, enjoy the entertaining and insightful videos of Farvann on YouTube, but never really checked out his solo black metal project, Durbatuluk, now is certainly a good time to do it.
Seemingly started back in 2012 with an unnamed demo that sounds much like what you expect from a one-man basement dwelling project, the output was sparse the first years. The next demo, The Very First Dream of Darkness, did not drop until 3 years later. Still rough around the edges, its main purpose is as a teaser of what the future would behold, as there clearly was put more emphasis on song structures and not just riffs.
So, building up anticipation for a full length, it was surely right around the corner? Yeah, only 4 years later, the first full length, Irrecoverably Lost, is presented to the world. Consisting of 8 songs, blending English and German lyrics, this was a big step forward for the project. The subject of the lyrics is firmly rooted in the introverted, misanthropic dsbm territory combined with descriptions of nocturnal nature.
Soon after the debut album, an EP was unleashed upon this world. Aus Anderen Augen is three great tracks that perfectly showcases the improved songwriting skills, this serves as a great appetizer, building anticipation for the next full length.
The Album – Erzähle, Baba Jaga
So onto the main course of this three course review, the latest album, Erzähle, Baba Jaga, now we’re cooking with gas. Bringing in an actual drummer this time around, none other than the fabulous Hymir (https://www.instagram.com/hymir_drums/), it shows a real intent of making something that has the opportunity of standing out among the horde of underground one man black metal. Let’s dissect it, shall we?
The cover art depicts what I can only imagine is the main character of this story, Baba Jaga, the old woman telling ancient tales of the supernatural, while we are gathered around the camp fire.
The fans seem to enjoy the full length, as evident by this quote taken from Bandcamp;
“After Die Hexe, it was hard to not get overly excited for this, but I can gladly announce: Erzähle, Baba Jaga is a fantastic second album. Less depressive than its predecessor, with a real drummer – and man, what an impact Hymir’s drums cause! Farvann’s vocals sound the best they ever have, and the riffs are of superb, chef kiss quality throughout. This man really loves the bass, and I’m all here for it. Very addictive black metal with radically improved songwriting quality.“ – David Fischer.https://durbatuluk.bandcamp.com/album/erz-hle-baba-jaga
A walkthrough, track by track:
1. Die Drohende Nacht
The first track, which title translates to The Looming Night, starts with a chilling sound of rain and a calm woman’s voice, is this the Baba Jaga telling us stories? The lyrics would suggest so, and the main riff drives the song forward, captivating. At first Farvanns screaming felt a bit too dsbm-y but the more I listen to it the more I find it suits the music. A short but fitting opener to the album.
The second track is Seelenwanderung, meaning something like a soul wandering, the transmigration of the soul from one plane to another. The song deals with, as far as my interpretation goes, chasing one’s inner demons and ghosts and trying to tell the outside world of the experience. This is a great song, the drums really bring it together and lets the guitars and vocals shine. The intensity is kept throughout the song, and it leads neatly into the third chapter.
Hinab, or Down in English, starts off in true dsbm fashion, with a mid-tempo beat, piercing, haunted vocals and a simple but effective guitar arrangement. A powerful, stomping mid-section lures us outside into the same rainy night that opened the album. Combined with the vocals in this part, it sets a chilling mood before it pummels you with its conclusion.
4. Die Kathedrale des Teufels
The fourth offering on the album, Die Kathedrale des Teufels, The Devils Cathedral, is in my opinion the strongest track on the album. With some angry parts to start off, shifting into some trashy tempos, the drumming on this song is truly epic. With the riffs being fast and energetic all the way through, this truly showcases the potential of this project. Towards the end it takes on a much more eerie mood, there is something haunting about the way repeatedly sings «und kinder und steine».
5. Сkвозь дремучий лес
The fifth track is all in Russian. It’s called Сkвозь дремучий лес, which translates to something like Through the Woods. It is all spoken word by the same woman as in the opening track, with the calming voice of guest vocalist Helga Keturka. It’s a calming song, and it fits in nicely as a breather in the middle of the album.
6. Die Hexe
Now we are more than halfway through this epos, the sixth track, Die Hexe, The Witch in English, is another banger. It’s by far the longest rack on the album and this gives it space to ebb and flow throughout as we are being told a story about this witch that seems to have evil intentions. A standout track in the way of its great songs structure, never a dull moment despite its 7 minutes running time.
7. Unsterbliche Mär
Unsterbliche Mär, Immortal Fairy Tale, is the last track with singing, as the final track is an instrumental. The desperation in Farvanns voice is still on full display, and it gives the lyrics a sense of urgency. It seems to bring the themes of the songs together, describing the art of storytelling, specially stories of ghost, witches and creatures, as something that is passed on through the generations.
8. Erzähle, Baba Jaga
The closer on the album is the epic instrumental with the same title as the album, Erzähle, Baba Jaga, Tell Me Baba Jaga. With the intensity of Farvanns vocals on the other tracks, except the fifth one, this instrumental is a fitting way to end this journey. It fades out as the Russian woman returns for a final message.
Who would have thought that funnyman Farvann has a serious and depressive side to him? This album caught me surprised in a good way. The decision to hire the drumming talents of Hymir has really paid off, as he brings a lot of awesome dynamics and elite musicianship without loosing any of the precision a drum machine provides.
The vocals of Farvann are somewhat an acquired taste and I would like to have a track or two with some other style of vocals on a future full length, just to give the listener a break from the very DSBM influenced shrieks that goes on here. The one spoken word track and the closing instrumental gives you a bit of a breather, but involving someone with a more classic black metal vocal style on one of the other tracks would perhaps have given this album another dimension.
All in all, I enjoy the album and some tracks I would rate very high. The album as a whole will probably not be among my top albums at the end of this year, but I thoroughly recommend it if you are not familiar with Farvanns serious side from before.
A good album by a great entertainer, I would not mind more stories from Baba Jaga.
- Die drohende Nacht 03:29
- Seelenwanderung 06:02
- Hinab 04:53
- Die Kathedrale des Teufels 04:37
- Сквозь дремучий лес 04:14
- Die Hexe 07:04
- Unsterbliche Mär 04:43
- Erzähle, Baba Jaga 04:58