By Jonny Bakes

Artwork for Ремиссия духа by Волчий ИсточникIn its early days, black metal was an incredibly underground movement with bands often resorting to reputation and word of mouth alone in order to succeed in that secretive world. Naturally the only way to get real attention was through extremism, the music was extreme and often the deeds and beliefs of the band were on the same level. Thanks to the recent dramatisation of Lords of Chaos, I think everyone is familiar with the stories of murder and church burning in the Norwegian black metal scene – but black metal goes far deeper than Norway…

Every now and again I’ll come across a black metal album that makes me wonder whether I’ll end up on a government watchlist by simply uttering its name, let alone listening to it and writing an entire review about it! And this is exactly one of those occasions now that I have this re-release of a 2007 black metal project in front of me. Everything is written in Russian, but fortunately I’ve been able to dig up some back story on where this had come from, it is quite some story – and, like all good extreme stories, it involves murder.

While serving eight years in a Russian prison, Alexander Tantsyrev (nicknamed “Dancer”) formed his project Волчий Источник (Wolf’s Source to you and me) and released this album titled ‘Ремиссия Духа’ (‘Remission of Spirit’). Rumour has it that, before his incarceration, Dancer had no exposure to black metal in the slightest – yet he went on to release what is possibly the only black metal album to be entirely recorded in a prison. Now those are some bold claims that are not going to go unnoticed within this particular scene, it just needs a burning church or two to really show off the grimness. But why are we getting a re-release of this and not new material? Well that’s the next bit of the story… after being released from prison and forming Khnuth, with whom he released three albums and one split EP, Dancer killed himself in 2011. Brutal.

And brutal is exactly what you get from this album: from start to finish it just oozes brutality. Each track is brimming with raw hatred and even rawer musical production that makes this whole thing sound just so damn evil. Knowing the back story that accompanies the album simply makes that association even stronger, it almost feels like a creative expression of that hateful energy that spurred Dancer to commit murder in the first place. I think it’s that harsh reality behind the music that really sucks you in with its almost hypnotic depressive nature.

There’s a good chance that this whole experience will be a little too extreme for most tastes, but if you’re of the “chosen few” who really appreciate “trve brvtal metal”, then I’d expect this to end up in your collection. And hell, if you just want to impress your friends with the sheer brutality of the music and the back story, then go knock yourself out. For me though, this was pretty impressive in its energy but it’s certainly not something I could listen to frequently, and I’m generally pretty fond of the genre. To be perfectly honest, after listening to this I feel like I need a hug and a hot chocolate to save me out of the chasm of despair that is invoked by this album!

‘Ремиссия духа’ is out now. You can get your copy HERE.

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