Voland III: Царепоклонство - Il culto degli Zar EP

Wow, there is a lot to unpack from this Italian duo’s third EP, Царепоклонство – Il culto degli Zar (Cult of The Tsars). At its core, it’s symphonic black metal. Musically, I’m reminded of 2 recent symphonic black metal EPs that were a little out side the box; First Lamentari’s Missa pro Defuncrtis from last year due to the sheer, bombastic orchestral and operatic scope. And second, this year’s gorgeous little EP Lawn from Christian Consentino, due to the classically inspired, symphonic elements and ability to do something outside usual symphonic black metal tropes.

And that’s just a very rough idea as to what Voland  (“Voland” is the way Satan is called in Michail Bulgakov’s “The Master and Margarita” apparently) are doing here. Throw in deep dive Russian lyrics and themes of pre communist Russian history relating to various historical events related to the Tsars (namely Nichlas II, Ivan the Terrible) and other Russian events and motifs. Which is then backed by some awesome classical Russian/Cossack/ethnic orchestration, that plays like a pre war propaganda soundtrack, and you get one of the more unique bands I’ve heard in a while. Then the cherry on top, is the extensive use of baritone operatic vocals, akin to the kind used Stormlord’s first two releases or Old Man’s Child The Pagan Prosperity.

Opener “Casa Ipatiev”  deal with the assassination of Nicholas II, and delivers a largely mid paced, austere delivery, that’s hardly black metal at all. Second track “Terza Roma”, starts with a more traditional black metal blast beat laden opening, but then has a very cool Cossack jaunt/jig and a cool, somber fadeout. “Promontorio”, (about a the Cossack uprising of 1670) is probably more standard black/death metal track, with more use of death/black metal vocal over its regal, somber march. “Suite Russe”, is where I really get the Christian Cosentino vibe, as it appears to be using pieces of classical music/opera as its core, and simply adds guitars and death metal vocals here and there, its a magical mix of styles that is truly rousing. The only real downside is the drums appear to be programmed.

The EP ends with two ‘live in studio’ renditions of tracks from Voland 1 and 2; “Leningrad” and “Dubina”, but even though they are from 2008 and 2017 respectively, they have been redone to blend in perfectly with the prior 4 tracks, making for a well worth your money, 37 minute EP of truly unique black metal/history lessons.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
June 18th, 2021


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