Bratislava, Slovakia – Finding joy in this peculiar wall of sound, known as Malokarpatan, might require stepping out of the comfort zone.
Offering a travel in time back to the ancient roots of Slovak folklore and dark, pre-modern times of ghastly myths and superstitions, Malokarpatan digs deep in the heritage of pagan black metal legends like Bathory, Celtic Frost or Moonsorrow, adding a layer of riff-driven, thrashy boosts of energy typical of heavy metal classics like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or King Diamond.
Saying that Malokarpatan is traditional in all aspects of their lore is an understatement. Traditionalism is the cornerstone of their murky, blurred sound, heathen black metal compositions, and lyrical content, sung in archaic Slovak, I as a native speaker can hardly understand. But this apparent indulgence in dark nooks of history isn’t where it ends for Malokarpatan – a comparatively young, but outstanding outfit arising from the deepest woods of the Carpathian region.
There’s something inconceivably palpable about the atmosphere they monger. As if their spell forcibly committed the listener to the dark, heathen rituals of ages past. This music has the potential to trigger the primal instincts of our inner savages who got lazy, fat, and Netflix-addicted over time, and Malokarpatan has a switch to turn the modern technologies off and send us back to the caves and forests we’ve come from.
Stidžie Dni, Nordparpatenland, and Krupinské Ohne
Who knows what was going on exactly in the heads of Malokarpatan founders back in 2014, when the band started its pagan voyage? One thing is certain, though, Slovakia’s musical scene wasn’t ready for this. Hiding behind the pseudonyms, this tribe of heathens smashed the face of rigidity, boredom, and commerce.
A year later their debut album Stridžie Dni came out, still obscured in incredibly old-school distorted sounds as if they resorted to some super legacy recording technology in a desperate struggle to reproduce near-unlistenable sounds of Norwegian black metal. But an unspoken promise was made: Give us a few years and we will redefine the contours of pagan music.
After Nordkarpatenland and Cesta podzemnými sálami Kovovlada EP, their third full-length opus Krupínske Ohne was out, harvesting raving reviews and dedicated fans versed in the muddy waters of black metal. And take my word for this, metal is not a universe of one hit wonders. It takes years to become relevant, decades to become legends. The metal scene requires hard work in the long run, granting you barely any fruit in return for your dedication. Gaining relative popularity after three LPs is out of the ordinary these days, especially for black metal bands.
Malokarpatan is becoming more and more recognised among their target group. However, there’s no point of talking about recognition, let alone fame in the conventional sense of the word. This music in not for everyone and requires dedicated individuals who don’t care about way too long songs, even longer titles, heavy, blurry sounds, echoing roars, and openly anti-popular attitude towards art making. It might take some time to digest this, but I doubt radio-friendliness was ever a priority for Malokarpatan.
The worst drinking game would go like this: Take a shot for every short and pronounceable song title by Malokarpatan. Everyone involved would stay stone-cold sober. On the other hand, titles like “V brezových hájech poblíž Babinej zjavoval sa nám podsvetný velmož, Filipojakubská noc na Štangarígelských skalách” or “V rujnovej samote pocichu dumá lovecký zámek zvlčilého grófa” have a strange appeal of their own, perfectly aligned with the essence of the music itself.
After all, it’s good to have bands like this around, who are not subject to reckless outreach and monthly listens/views seeking is something absolutely alien to them. This music has a soul living its own way. For Malokarpatan is not just music. It’s a journey to dark and uncharted lands, it’s the call of the wild, the ever-present madness of our inner barbarians and, last but not least, a link to humanity’s primeval origins untouched by civilization and pretence.
Hats off, horns up!