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Munruthel - CREEDamage (Svarga Music)

By: Mike Sloan

[8.5/10] It’s been interesting to hear the gradual change of direction Munruthel has taken over the years. The Ukrainian mastermind has made a gradual shift from an ambient/electronic-based delivery to a more modern symphonic/metal one and the results continue to astonish. Munruthel himself and, more importantly, his music have gotten more grandiose and focused over the years and it goes without saying that his albums get better and better each time out.

Enter his latest opus, CREEDamage (and fifth overall), and it thankfully continues the trend of marginal-to-vast improvements from its predecessor. Sporting a more robust sound and a clearer direction of what the neo-composer is trying to convey to his audience, CREEDamage is a splendid listen from start to finish, one that beckons the listener to return to each track individually and the album as a whole.

Whether it be the opening salvos of “Ardent Dance of War’s God” or the closing moments of “Krada III: The Fire,” the album seamlessly ebbs and flows like the tides of the Black Sea. Filled with emotional serenades to both sorrow and hope alike, virtually everything about the album paints a spectacular portrait of what is inside his head. Interspliced amidst the blackish metal, Munruthel has woven a wondrous tapestry of symphony and opera, not unlike Therion over the past 15 years. Though Munruthel hasn’t yet reached the pinnacle of this sort of classical/metal crossover that Christofer Johnsson has, the parallels are there and if CREEDamage, is any indication, Therion might eventually have a run for its money.

Combining a near-perfect blend of harmonies, folk and ambience with an almost Hollywood blockbuster styled soundtrack, CREEDamage has just enough of a varying overall sound for virtually every fan of the large metal spectrum. One of the more surprising aspects of the album, though, is the magnificent cover of Bathory’s track “The Lake.” Long one of Bathory’s best songs though not one of their most popular, Munruthel took the brilliance of “The Lake” and actually injected it with aural steroids. After repeated listens to the clearer, more bombastic approach that Munruthel took in recreating the song, it’s arguable that the cover version is actually better than the original. As blasphemous as it sounds, Munruthel’s execution of the track is note-for-note but with a better sound, one that is actually a bit darker than the original.

The only real flaw with the album is how Munruthel decided to close it out. By sequencing the three-part “Krada” instrumentals at the end, CREEDamage unfortunately ends on a low note. Soaked in symphonic instrumentation, the three songs shouldn’t have been placed back-to-back-to-back because, as good as they are, they pale in comparison to the proper songs found on the album. Had they been placed sporadically throughout the album rather than at the end (they feel tacked on), it took an otherwise brilliant, powerful album and ended it with more of a whimper than an explosion.

Still, CREEDamage is an album that needs to be heard and considering how much Munruthel has improved throughout the years, there’s simply no telling how great this largely one man band can become. We cannot wait to see what comes next…

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