Released late last November, less than a year after its predecessor The Dark Saga (2011), CREEDamage represents the solidification of Munruthel’s lyrical and musical identity. Founded in 1988 by the eponymous Munruthel (Vladislav Redkin) as a Dark Ambient outfit, the band has been in constant departure from the genre, finally settling on something close to a Folk –Black mash-up in 2011’s Dark Saga. CREEDamage completes Munruthel’s transition from its early roots, and when viewed as a counterpart or companion release to Dark Saga, lends some stability to the outfit’s overall sound.
A slew of impressive bands have emerged from the Slavonic Folk milieu; Nokturnal Mortum and Drudkh are more established examples. Redkin, having been an integral part of the Nokturnal Mortum setup for close to a decade, has presented both Dark Saga and CREEDamage as offerings representative of Munruthel’s divestiture of its extrinsic roots. With their recent output, Redkin and Munruthel have rightly claimed their place alongside Drudkh, Kroda, Walknut and others as forerunners of Slavonic Folk.
CREEDamage, over and above its significance in Munruthel’s musical trajectory, is a triumph in its own right. It is an immense work that draws heavily on the natural thematic largeness of historicity and the Slavic ethos. It is entrenched in Ukraine, its soil and its history, much in the same way Windir’s Likferd was entrenched in Sognamal. This entrenchment is readily apparent in the various orchestral passages in CREEDamage; arguably the album’s most attractive feature. The symphonic backings on ‘Rolls on Thunder from Fiery Skies’ and ‘The Mown Dawns Lie On The Ground’ are obviously derivative of the Ukranian Vesnianky, bandura passages and other Slavic tropes, providing the ethnic anchor that bands such as Drudkh and Thunderkraft (one of Redkin’s many bands) have exploited to great effect. Redkin has proved to be remarkably adept at orchestral arrangement both on this release, and on Dark Saga. The symphonic elements are not all the album has to offer, being balanced out with equally weighty guitar tangents and counterpoints. Redkin’s drumming is relatively simple (by design) and functions primarily as rhythmic scaffolding for the vocals and symphonic arrangement to take centre-stage.
With a massive introductory track (‘Ardent Dance of War’s God’), replete with heavy brass and war drums, Redkin sets the tone for the rest of CREEDamage. As the epic largeness transitions into the body of the album, we are made fully aware of the scope of the album; an awareness that is accentuated by the intermittent vocal presence of Masha Arkhipova (of Apkoha fame) and Alina Gornostayeva. A well-chosen Bathory cover (‘The Lake’) steals the show midway through the album. Wulfstan’s vocals on the track are deserving of particular praise. Aside from paying homage to Quorthon and Black Metal’s early Scandinavian roots, the Bathory cover, along with the album’s introductory track, lifts CREEDamage out of its Slavic-centricity. The album then transitions into the final three orchestral tracks, the ‘Krada Triumvirate’ (‘Krada I: The Blood’, ‘Krada II: The Surya’, ‘Krada III: The Fire’). Here we see Redkin’s compositional abilities at their very best. The ending of CREEDamage is Prokofiev-esque in its scale and largeness, and is consistent with the rest of the album. This release will be of special interest to fans of Drudkh, Walknut, Kroda, Nokturnal Mortum, Oakenshield and Windir.