One man bands often do not leave a good impression, with too many being simply bedroom projects that release at best mediocre material that feature simplistic, uninspired music. Canada’s Haiduk is the brainchild of one Luka Milojica, but unlike many other bands that feature a single mastermind, this has interested me a little bit, with the occult-related themes and imagery that he has taken to, and Spellbook, the band’s debut, seems to be a promising record as well, coming in 2 years after the band’s debut demo Plagueswept which garnered pretty good response.
Haiduk certainly does not disappoint as the band hits the listener quickly as the album begins with Lich, with a rather thrashy feel with the riffs and the lightning quick pace of the music, immediately catching the attention of the listener with the immense amount of energy that is here. Though programmed, the drums for the most part manage to sound rather organic, and the mixing of the drums allow for each hit to pack a punch on the listener’s ears, making for the music to be even more intense. Unsurprisingly as well, the drumming isn’t anything particularly flashy, mostly taking a rhythmic role in keeping up the fast pace and intensity of the music. On the other hand though, the guitar work on Spellbook seems to be the focus, with Luka’s playing easily going from a crushing, death metal inspired style to one that leans more towards black metal, reinforcing the atmospheric elements of the music. It is rather expected then that Luka’s guitar playing is one of the key focuses of the music, with the speed and precision of his playing being highly prominent in the music as he executes all the complex riffs on Spellbook with much ease. This can also be seen through the rather low presence of vocals on most of the tracks as well, with the guitars taking the front stage in driving the music.
Most of the songs on Spellbook are rather short, allowing for Haiduk to deliver their dose of brutality in the listener’s face. The music here is therefore mostly rather straightforward, with little time for filler material at all. Combine this with the usually fast playing of the band, this ensures that the music is experienced most effectively, preventing the listener’s mind from wandering off as the album progresses. However, while this could be a good thing in preventing things from getting too stale, at times this could be the downfall of the band as well, with tracks that seem to build up yet suddenly ending just as one expects the band to hit a climax, like the rather sudden ending of Stormcall leaving the listener high and dry. This also at times result in rather awkward transitions to the next track, breaking the flow of the songs.
However, overall the songs on Spellbook are all pretty impressive in themselves, and apart from these few moments of awkwardness and the at times artificial sounding drums, Haiduk is definitely a band to watch out for, with Spellbook dispelling prior generalisations of bands that adopt the same format.