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by Chuck Eddy

September 9, 2013

Metal from Eastern Europe

by Chuck Eddy  |  September 9, 2013

Everybody defines "Eastern Europe" differently, but for our purposes let's say east of Germany and Austria, south of Scandinavia, north of Greece: So basically a part of the world behind the Soviet curtain of iron, where metal couldn't have been expected to thrive until 1989, when Communism started to collapse. A couple bands from Hungary are probably the oldest on this playlist -- trad power metal troupe Ossian, who managed to release a debut album in 1988, and experimental black-metallers Tormentor, who started recording on the sly in 1987 but whose early music wasn't officially compiled until much later. Other ensembles here span the metal spectrum -- from "goregrind" to "tech death" to "pagan black" to "doom/stoner" and beyond, according to their Encyclopaedia Metallum entries. But an unusual number of them -- for instance Russia's Arkona, Ukraine's Thunderkraft, Slovenia's Avven and Hungary's Ektomorf -- draw on regional folk influences. Sometimes you might even hear the balalaikas ringing out.

Russia is also the birthplace of Branikald, Dark Princess and Old Wainds; Hungary also begat Forest Silence and Sear Bliss; Ukraine also coughed up Astrofaes, Drudkh, Khors, Wall of Sleep and Zgard. Two more from Ukraine were eliminated from the mix due to unmistakable Aryan supremacist fascist tendencies, and listeners are forewarned that it's not entirely certain that all the remaining inclusions are in the clear -- e.g., Drudkh and Latvia's Skyforger are said to be ideology-free, but members' respective past associations and since-disowned "thunder cross" use have caused skeptics to question their allegiances. Other bands here represent Poland (Besatt, Behemoth, Crionics, Crystal Viper, Decapitated) and the Czech Republic (Ahumado Granujo, Master's Hammer, Trollech). Several scream in guttural accents about winter, storms, snow and dark foresty stuff: Global warming or no, thawing out from the Cold War could take a while.

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