N.K.V.D. – Hakmarrja

Rating: 2/5
Distributor/label: Avantgarde Music
Distributor/label URL: http://www.avantgardemusic.com
Released: 17/08/14
Buy Album: http://avantgardemusic.bigcartel.com/product/n-k-v-d-hakmarrja-cd
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/nkvdmetal

N.K.V.D.Band line-up:

Loïc F. – All instruments and vocals

Track Listing:

1. Exordium
2. Hakmarrja
3. Wolfschanze
4. Za Krajla
5. The Invisible Empire
6. Travail Famille Patrie
7. Bastallion Vostok
8. U.C.K.
9. Red Silence
10. Excipit


Ask around your fellow metal-loving peers the reasons why the enjoy the genre that they do, and I’m sure you’ll be met with a myriad of answers. Some like the aggression and the abrasiveness of the sonic barrage that comes with this immutable genre, whilst others will appreciate the typically higher-standard of musicianship and technical ability displayed. Many more reasons may be offered, but, chiefly, the former is the reason that we can all attest to being fans of – with metal, we like nothing more than musically-induced (and metaphorical) cranium-caving.

Bands across the metal spectrum achieve this in many ways: low-tunings, thumping drums, staccato/poly-rhythms, breakdowns, shred leads, slams, tempo changes, time changes, clean passages marrying together heavier passages, etc., with varying degrees of success. Now here is where the key issue with N.K.V.D.’s sophomore release “Hakmarrja” – there is an over-reliance on one of the above (low-tuning), with very little of anything else. From opener “Exordium”, to closer “Excipit”, the album is one-paced and a blur of (admittedly crushing) low-strung riffs and doomy atmospheres. But after a while, this simply blurs into a the audible representation of the colour grey.

“Wolfschanze” carries a slight foreboding feel and is matched by the haunting procession from start to conclusion, whilst “Batallion Vostok” sends chills down the spine with its purposeful war-march and blaring horns – it actually sounds as if it could be from a film. There’s even time for a slight left-field opener, with the near operatic opening to “Travail Famille Patrie” providing a slight bit of relief to the low dirge. But this is where the significant, memorable moments become hard to find as the rest of the album is solely low, ringing power chords with samples and black metal moans. Even the drums (whilst programmed) have little to no impact – the kicks click away beneath the rumbling guitars and the snare (or any other part of this programmed kit) is just barely audible. Drums have a major impact in making music heavy and it is not present here – whether we refer to what’s on offer here as drums or beats doesn’t really matter, because a metronome would also suffice.

One-man wrecking machine N.K.V.D. has shown with 2011’s “Власть” that this brand of industrial black metal CAN have an impact, but whilst there are obvious consistencies between the two albums, the former actually made use of breaks and pauses for breath to maximise the power of the music. Sadly, “Hakmarrja” doesn’t do this and it is a shame as the storytelling beheld in the lyrics makes for interesting listening.

Review by Lee Carter