Kroda / Velimor - _By a Hammer of Spirit and Identity of Blood_
(Stellar Winter, 2006)
by: Quentin Kalis (8.5 and 7.5 out of 10 respectively)
After the fantastic split with Oprith, I was keen to hear the latest Kroda opus, but was left feeling just a tad underwhelmed. The overall sound is noticeably different: the bass is chunkier, the guitars heavier, with a less clear production faintly reminiscent of Nokturnal Mortum's _To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire_.

The trademark sopilka (duct flute) is present, although it is accompanied by what sounds like a mouth harp. Kroda again perform four songs, one of which is a brief but nonetheless effective folk intro and another is a passable cover of Burzum’s "Jesus Tod". The sporadic use of the sopilka suggests an attempt to personalize the song, but doesn't succeed and it remains the weakest spot on the CD. Kroda also perform yet another song to accompany a poem, namely Vasil Babinsky's "The Arrow". The final track is one that Kroda have actually written the lyrics for, but doesn't quite match the standard set by "The Arrow" -- which in turn is inferior to _Legend_. Despite the ambitious nature of the songs, the album lacks the epic nature that permeated _Legend_.

Kroda seem to be at their best when they are writing music to accompany other people's poetry; perhaps the poem acts as a creative spur. But don't overestimate the import of my negative sentiments -- minus the unnecessary cover, this is only slightly inferior to their previous split and remains a worthwhile listen.

Velimor lists two bassists as performing on this album, although I never hear more than one bass at a time. Presumably the second bassist was hired after the unfortunate death of Ulv Gegner Irminsson, of Forest and Raven Dark fame, who was murdered in October 2005. Although three songs are listed, there only two tracks; it appears that the first two have been accidentally conjoined.

This is pretty similar in style and tone to _Ancestry_, but without any folk intros or outros. A pity, as they were amongst the best 'pure' folk in metal since Empyrium's _Weiland_, and the omnipresent flute makes for a poor secondary prize.

As with his previous outings, a slight thrash and a strong Celtic Frost influence are present, as well as the flute. It's hard to say whether this is any better or any worse than _Ancestry_, and complements the Kroda half perfectly. The entire booklet is in Kroda's characteristic heathen style and is absolutely stunning.

To conclude, this is a admirable split by two of Eastern Europe’s shining lights.

Contact: http://www.thepaganfront.com/stellarwinter/eng.html

(article published 5/10/2006)


ALBUMS
3/25/2009 Q Kalis 7.5 Kroda - Live in Lemburg
6/23/2007 Q Kalis 9 Kroda - Fimbulvinter
1/12/2007 Q Kalis 9 Kroda - Towards the Firmaments Verge of Life...
10/23/2006 Q Kalis 8 Velimor - Ancestry
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