Svyatogor - Doctor Veritas
Svarga Music
Diverse Avant-Garde Blackened Metal
10 songs (51'45")
Release year: 2012
Reviewed by Alex

Before I go on describing the music on Svyatogor's Doctor Veritas, a few words about the meaning of the moniker for this Ukrainian band. Another Master Alafern led crew (see my recent review of Thunderkraft and my subsequent interview with the mastermind) takes its name from the venerable knight of ancient Slavic folk tales. At least that is what I learned while being a schoolboy. Perhaps less heralded than some others, Svyatogor personified not only valor, but also old age and wisdom. That is how I remember it anyway.

With the moniker like this it would reasonable to expect the Svyatogorians to play folk flavored metal and even though the opener In Memory of Fallen Heroes has definite Ukrainian folk motifs in its melodic underpinning, it is immediately clear that Doctor Veritas is a lot more than that. While Thuderkraft's Totentanz was largely industrial death metal, Doctor Veritas is very eclectic avant-garde blackened material. Perhaps even too eclectic for its own good.

The album covers an unbelievable wide swath of territory. There is no song on Doctor Veritas which proceeds along linear mundane path or has repeating parts. Sure enough, there are a few moments of blast beats and cosmic interwoven melodies on Inevitability and Reincarnation of Thoughts to tie it back to the black metal realm. And then there is probably the death/thrash of Spit and Forget after the downtuned melodies take their toll. Perhaps even a momentary pissed off anger on Awoke/Incoming can be expected. But how do you explain the 1-2-3 waltz mocking its way along on Work Hard. Eat. Watch spitting in the face of the dull way of life? Or saxophone boldly appearing after the atmospheric death/black a la Mental Home on the title track? Or more saxophone adding into rock'n'roll closing off Reincarnation of Thoughts? Or grotesque lounge impersonation on La Concupiscence? Add gritty guitars colliding with the syncopated rhythms on The Manifesto and Inevitability, the insane technicality of playing, and you ought to add the definition of progressive into this mix.

To further the multitude of emotions and dimensions covered, Svyatogor uses no less than four languages on the album. In addition to three I know (Russian, English and Ukrainian), they add Spanish or French on La Concupiscence. Arius uses anything his throat can emanate, from screams to brief melodic clean singing moments to spoken vocals, rising to the top of his lungs on La Concupiscence reminding me of long defunct Mexican outfit Buried Dreams.

Having described the individual parts, I now must proceed to the unenviable task expressing how I feel this wide-ranging music comes off as a whole. Doctor Veritas is anything but easy to get into on the first listen. I have set this album aside for a number of times, listening to a couple songs at a time not to get overwhelmed. As much as it is diverse, all those bold sidesteps on Doctor Veritas can’t be called organically fitting. I can easily see people enjoying one moment of the album, only to have their jaws dropping a few minutes later. Some will be mesmerized with the assortment of topics, some will give up not being able to digest the hodge-podge. Proceeding with caution is the best opinion I can give here.

Killing Songs :
In Memory of Fallen Heroes, Doctor Veritas, Nor Fire Nor Sword, Inevitability
Alex quoted 74 / 100
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