Drakar
Let Draka/The Flight of the Dragon

Please pardon the pedestrian nomenclature, but this is one of the coolest albums I’ve heard in some time. Honestly, every time I spin this sucker it never fails that at some point along the way the words “this is such a cool album” enter my mind. Is that so wrong or should I be showering you with pedantic prose and high falootin’ book learn’ stuff? In any event, Let Draka/The Flight of the Dragon is another of I Hate Records’ super, uh, cool reissues from 80s/early 90s Eastern Block thrash bands; make sure to check out Thrasher Death’s Slaver too. Originally released in 1990, the debut album by eclectic Czech thrashers Drakar is one unique entity with much to offer fans of left-field metallic creativity. I Hate Records have in fact shed new light on an “old and forgotten Eastern European” jewel. In the interest of fair warning however, I will state that the reissue probably falls into the category of a love-it-or-hate it album. Moving on…

Where do I even start? A qualifier about the description of this album as “thrash metal” is probably the best place. Thrash – or at least progressive thrash – is a significant component of Let Draka/The Flight of the Dragon; beyond that, you might as well throw out anything related to the safe or conventional. The varied, intricate riffing, the otherworldly soloing, and the percussive drumming do constitute thrash at some level, but only in the sense that Voivod is thrash metal; specifically, somewhere around the Nothingface era. But that still doesn’t tell the story of this album.

Add in some of Toxik’s screaming six-string work, and then mix it with croaky, speak-sing vocals and forays into the downright bizarre and you’ll feel yourself getting warmer. I mean there must be some logical reason behind the images of German porn shoots and Michael Myer’s SNL character Dieter from the Sprockets skit that kept showing up in the background of my mental movie. Plus, there is a sonic aura vaguely reminiscent of dark, Eastern European house music…something like that anyway. Really just images, not sound, yet…eh, fuck it.

A good, suitably bare-bones production serves only to support the superb bass/guitar playing and drumming, which has a very organic feel to it that holds tightly together and amazes with moments of stone cold shred. “Zrada A Pomsta” is a serious thrasher that boils in a pot full of Sadus, Voivod, and one other as yet unregulated substance, while “Siam” hits with similar strength, although the lighter vocals (interspersed with guttural, yet almost whispered backing vocals), offers contrast. Both the cadence and riffing on the track just plain kill. At the same time there is a trance-like quality to this album that has a way sucking you right in and keeping you there for the duration.

There are some truly dynamic songs on here that also happen to be quirky as hell, “Crazy Boy” one such example of overt quirkiness and “Poslední Křížová Výprava” a case of the strange, the adventurous, and the infectious getting together for coffee in a dirty little Prague café. In the case of the latter tune, the melodic leads remind of a 1980s pop-based new wave song that escapes me; it is one on which I could easily hear handclaps mirroring the snare hits. It’s hard to explain; back off.

As if that weren’t enough, the package comes with a second CD of the same tracks sung in English. According to the I Hate press release, “A common practice in many former East Block states was to record an English-sung version for the foreign market and another in the native tongue for the homeland.” It is interesting to hear the English translations, but the Czech lyrics better fit the essence of the effort. Either way, you’ll be in great shape with this limited (500 copies) reissue, which also includes “an extensive biography by bandleader Ivan Sekyra, old photos, [and a] video bonus in [the] form of ‘Poslední Křížová Výprava’ and more!” And since I didn’t have the pleasure of getting all of that booty with my single Czech language version slipcase promo (thanks to I Hate for hooking me up with the English-version MP3s), then I was left with no choice but to order this sucker. Fortunately, The Omega Order had one in stock, so I pulled the trigger with extreme prejudice. Live a little. Isn’t variety supposed to be the spice of life?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Scott Alisoglu
May 12th, 2011

Comments

  1. Commented by: timmy

    Long live the Czechs!


  2. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    “Live a little. Isn’t variety supposed to be the spice of life?”

    Says the guy who trashed the new Haunted album having obviously not even given it a fair chance. Give me a break.


  3. Commented by: Scott Alisoglu

    Relax sweetie, it’s an opinion


  4. Commented by: Jodi
  5. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I’ve heard nothing but negativity about that new Haunted disc.


  6. Commented by: Stacy B.

    Yea, I’ve yet to check out the new Haunted, but hear it’s pretty bad.

    On the plus side, the album artwork to this Drakar album is pretty bad ass and seems to fit a lot of the same feelings/sound pointed out in the review. Nice!


  7. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    Scott…

    Just pointing out your own hypocrisy. ;)

    And I’m definitely not your “sweetie”.


  8. Commented by: Turd McGee

    huge difference between variety and pure shittiness bro


  9. Commented by: King Missle

    This is good, the new Haunted is definitely not.


  10. Commented by: Blackwater Park

    I have to assume by “pure shittiness” you are referring to this album or something else, rather than Unseen by The Haunted which is SOLID FUCKING GOLD!!!


  11. Commented by: GoatCommando

    Listened to this during the back end of an acid trip, very very cool.


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