Tvangeste
Damnation of Regiomontum

Tvangeste was formed in 1996 and the line-up was complete some two years later in 1998. They call their music “True Prussian Black Metal.” Damnation of Regiomontum is their debut. It is quite professional and polished for a first recording.

Before I get into the music, some background is necessary. Who are/were the Prussians? Prussia was a former Germanic kingdom near the Baltic Sea. The name of the band, Tvangeste, was a small Prussian town destroyed by Christians in 1255. They built their castle on the ashes of this proud nation and renamed the town Koenigsberg, and it was German territory up to 1945 when the Soviet army seized the city and forcefully depopulated the Germans. The Russians renamed the city Kaliningrad, which is the band’s home. They categorize themselves as heathen, saying they are not satanists, they believe in people as “Great Nature’s Creations.” One other thing to clear up before the musical discussion, that is not a swastika on the cover. The band says, “We are not nazis – it’s not a swastika – the symbol we use in our logo is a pagan Russian and Prussian symbol it means sky…there you can see clouds, heaven circle and sun symbol.”

Musically, there are black metal vocals, Scandinavian melodic death aspects, keyboards, violins, female vocals… It’s all here, but before you say it’s been done to death, let me say that it’s been done with mediocre results by many bands. Tvangeste does it with style, great musicianship and good songwriting. The violins and cellos are not added because it’s expected of this style of metal, but because it fits within the structures of the songs. It is also a minor part of the disc, which is a strength for not being overdone. Female vocals are the same, not done as a gimmick, used sparingly, and to great effect when they are used. Before going further, let me give some musical background. Keyboardist Victoria, who also plays piano, has a background in doom and gothic, and bassist Vano comes from a death metal band.

The release from the record label says, “5 beautiful, emotional and atmospherical tracks. Grand art with classical instrumentation, seductive and enraptured female chants, everything in perfect harmonization of aggressive, speed guitars.” Do they live up to this lofty praise? Almost. Miron has excellent range to his voice, always grim, but changing his delivery to suit the music beneath him. He does an “evil” screech style reminiscent of Enslaved, and a low snarling growl with a bit of a sneer to it; not so guttural as to be death metal style, and a higher pitched growl/shriek combo halfway between that is more typical black metal. Vano adds a deep haunting chanting spoken voice. The title track has a nice duet with the grim vocals and lofty female vocals singing together for several minutes.

The pace of the music is slow with intricate guitars with many faster and slower sections within songs. The keyboards never overwhelm the other instruments but are not mere accent pieces. Many bands use effects to imitate classical instruments, Tvangeste uses the real thing. Cello and violin passages are memorable flourishes that add to the majestic feel. They are Russian but all lyrics are in English. Grammar is problematical but the scope of ideas is impressive. While many black metal bands are content to spew anti-Christian sentiments, some go further by writing about their pagan beliefs in a more positive approach. Though Tvangeste are obviously anti-Christian, their message is one of religious and cultural tolerance. Miron says, “We don’t hate any nation but we want respect for our native Russian culture.” He says Prussian culture has been assimilated into Russian culture, Prussia has died. The lyrics are lengthy. Here are some excerpts: From Nameless Oracle; “what’s the point of freedom and power? Are you ready to lose? What’s the point of honor and bravery? Are you ready to die?” The only shortcoming of this album is a lack of intensity.

Some blastbeats during up tempo parts or just a bit more aggression to match the vocals would add to its effectiveness. This album is highly recommended for fans of intelligent music. There are many bands that sound like parts of this album, or if you prefer, this band shares traits with many others, but Tvangeste is the complete package lyrically and musically. Mature, talented songwriters, Tvangeste deserve your support – you will not be disappointed.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
January 27th, 2000

Comments

  1. Commented by: Old Pick Axe

    Tvangeste are righteous as hell. I first heard of them years ago when they were supposed to open for Cradle Of Filth in Moscow on the Midian tour….but it fell through. Still an awesome band nonetheless though.


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