As far as metal goes, Ukraine is a force to be reckoned with. With bands like Drudkh, Hate Forest and Nokturnal Mortum, as well as the countless side-projects they have spawned, the city of Kharkiv alone is enough to be considered a hotbed of high-quality black metal. While it was initially possible to consider Munruthel, the solo project of Vladislav Redkin, a side-gig of Nokturnal Mortum, the transition from ambient to symphonic black metal on the 2006 album Epoch of Aquarius definitively established it as an autonomous entity. Subsequently, 2012’s CREEDamage confirmed that Munruthel is little short of obligatory for fans of Ukrainian black metal.
Across its 1-hour running time, CREEDamage revisits the symphonic black metal sound of Epoch of Aquarius, but builds upon said release by adding a superior production and more fleshed-out orchestral arrangements. In 2011, Redkin made the official soundtrack to the video game add-on Gothic II: The Dark Saga. This experience, with composing for another medium, pays off on CREEDamage, with bombastic orchestrated interludes and movie samples adding a thick cinematic layer to this already imaginative music. Furthermore, Redkin’s raspy vocals and pin-point precision as a drummer provide the ideal basis for no less than 10 session musicians to put their skills on display. These guests range from local veterans such as Istukan (Dub Buk) and Master Alafern (Thunderkraft) to Masha Arkhipova of the famous Arkona, the latter of whom delivers stunning guest vocals on “The Mown Dawns Lie on the Ground”.
Munruthel’s CREEDamage offers a mix of professional musicianship, fantastic arrangements and a powerful production, making for an incredibly tasteful take on symphonic black metal; one that contrasts the unbearable cheesiness and posturing of Dimmu Borgir and their ilk. Highlights include the upbeat title song, the aforementioned collaboration with Arkhipova on “The Mown Dawns Lie on the Ground”, and a cover of Bathory’s “The Lake” that might even eclipse the original, legendary in its own right though it may be. Perhaps the final 3 tracks – all instrumental compositions woven around the same theme – are a tad overbearing, but with its otherwise diverse, meticulously crafted offering of symphonic metal, CREEDamage stands out as the ultimate testament of Redkin’s craftmanship, which is enough of a reason to merit your attention.