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Mizantropia - Oblivion

Mizantropia - CD Review




CD Info
Metal Scrap Records
11 tracks
Ukrainian lyrics


It’s hard to ignore the solid music coming from Eastern Europe. The Russians, the Ukrainians, and pretty much every other state from Eastern Europe is delivering music that is at the top of multiple metal genres. And Femme Metal is no exception. Mizantropia is another solid sound coming from Metal Scrap Records in Ukraine, and they provide one of the top sounds it’s been my pleasure to listen to this year. This release includes 3 tracks in English, the remainder are in Ukrainian, a language somewhat similar to Russian and written in Cyrillic. Consequently, we may not be able to discuss all the lyrics, which is a shame. The ones I can understand are solid, as is the music.

The band dates back to 2003. It has evolved from a solid Gothic Metal sound, something that you can expect with some degree of regularity from Ukraine. The band evolved into a mix of Gothic, Doom, Black, Melodic Death Metal over time, and the present release is the result of that evolution. The sympho component seems to be a new part of the bands personality, but, here, it’s clearly more than just an after thought. I asked the band about it, they mentioned that it’s a production component, there doesn’t seem to be a full time keyboard player so you can pretty much figure that it’s software provided or done with another technological approach (or a ghost keyboard player, I guess). Either way, its more than a minor part of the musical landscape.

But, this music takes it’s excellence from a number of approaches. There’s solid metal, there’s that sympho from somewhere, and there’s a femme metal vox that covers the classical and the Death Metal with equal levels of competency. It’s hard to begin describing the release. I’ve listened to this one as much as anything I’ve heard this year. And, as much as I listen to lyrics, you’d think this one wouldn't appeal to me, it’s mostly in a language I can’t understand. But, sometimes, that just doesn’t matter. This is one of those times.

On rare occasions, music communicates beyond what the lyrics tell us; sometimes we understand without comprehending. Mizantropia seems to have this innate ability to communicate on multiple levels, which is strange given the relative youth of the band. But then, there have been bands like this before, youth is not always an impediment. A lot of that is the vocalist, one Catherine Sinegina. There’s also a female drummer, a good one, and some fine guitar players. But, good as the background material is, it’s the vocalist that seems to drive this material for much of the time. That and the overall production. I’m not sure I understand how this kind of sound evolves, but it seems to evolve in the Ukraine with some degree of regularity. Hard to understand, my Ukrainian wife liked Country Western. Guess she’d been out of the old country too long.

So, what does Oblivion have to say and how does it say it. We begin with Dark Gathering which is one of the 3 English titles. And they waste no time getting to the sound that defines the release. We get solid guitars, some killer drums and that vox that drives the release. We begin with the more classical sounding but we slip a little Death metal in to make sure you know this will be something other than standard Operatic material. Lyrically, we hear a theme that prepares us for the devastation that follows:

So let it be / I’ll turn much more lights on
Tonight is my party / Don’t mind that I’m alone

I’m the hero / of masquerade / But I’m alone
Tonight is my party / But I’m alone

Tonight is the ball / The candles are lightened
But in this empty hall / I’m alone, I’m frightened

What you get with this release is an emotional quality that is certainly a strongpoint of the release. You don’t need to understand the Ukrainian lyrics, or the English lyrics for that matter. You feel the music, you understand what is being said without understanding a word, and that is a rare capability. Much of this communication is the art of vocalist Catherine Sinegina and her’s is a vocal that goes beyond what we expect in this genre, and, in this genre, we expect a lot. The movement from the beautiful to the full death metal is exceptional, I can’t really compare it to anyone else I’ve heard although many do this approach. It’s like two sides of the same soul, one addressing the beauty of life, the other exploring the darkness. Our vocalist seamlessly moves from one sound to the next within the blink of an eye, we have no time to register the alteration in sound. But it’s not a one person show, the background metal clearly understands the desperation of the lyrical themes and is there to promote a fuller understanding.

The third track is entirely in Ukrainian, as is the title. In English, that title is At the Bottom of Eternity. Ukrainian is a language that is clearly foreign to most of us. I’ve heard more than most having been married to a Ukrainian, but it’s still a little different than listening to Spanish or French. There is some similarity to Russian, at least to my interpretation. But, with this vocalist, the lyrics are just that more interesting in her native tongue. Again, we get the rapid transfer from the more classical vocal to the growling in in a Miami moment, and the effect is spectacular.

Poison of Life is a second track in English. It begins with a pulsating guitar, followed by a more crushing guitar leading to a screaming voice from the grave. We hear:

What is the healing for the broken soul?
The broken soul craves no oblivion, it desires to live
What can be given to ruined and almostly cold
Almostly dead and cloudy mind, what can you give?

Our vocalist then goes back in forth from one style to the other, taking us deeper and deeper into the hopelessness of a life in turmoil. I know of few vocalists who can put as much emotion into a track, I’ve heard less pain on the therapist’s couch. The final verse defines our final outcome:

Each step I take brings me closer to death
Closer to endless oblivion and alienated me from life
Time runs through me and empties my heart to the last breathe
My last farewell would be forced and gored with coldness of knife.

Tomorrow Never Comes is the final English track, and it’s a good one. It begins with keyboard sounding bells, and flashes to the harsh vocal. With this one, there are several points where our vocalist hits high notes in her classical voice and those times are to be treasured. She is a soprano of some note. If there’s a deficiency in this release it’s that these moments are too few and far between. If you can hit those notes, give them to us. The track, lyrically, continues the dark Gothic themes that are the staple of the release:

Time goes away / But we can not see
Only drop of the rain / Left of reality

We are helpless in this / But to get the life’s kiss
We continue to go / To the end of this road

We sail on the river / Like the life’s lover
But it has no end / And we understand

The band clearly does some interesting videos, and, with them, you get to see what this lovely Ukrainian vox looks like in performance. One of the best is After You. I have it on confidence that the instrument she’s playing here is a “sopylka” but that’s probably not how you spell it, it came from a Ukrainian friend who was guessing after I described it. If I’m wrong, I’ll probably here about it from the band. But, either way, it does add an interesting dimension to the track which is, by the way, one of my favorites and I’ve largely worn it out on several iPods.

The remainder of the tracks are all in Ukrainian which doesn’t detract from the excellence of the release at all. It may, in some cases, enhance the listening quality. Most are a bit harder in nature although some, Fragments of the Void, for instance, turn down the pace to a more Doom oriented sound. The band seems equally competent at this approach, and the vocals are sufficiently flexible to meet the requirements for this alteration in musical style.

As I mentioned, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to this release, it’s as good as anything I’ve heard this year from anywhere on earth. I suspect I may have more to say about it after the first of the year. Metal Scrap records continues to impress me with a solid lineup of talent, and Mizantropia may be the best yet.