July 22, 2017

Tchornobog - Tchornobog

By Justin C. Markov Soroka gave me a challenge two-and-a-half years ago, namely how to write about his Aureole project. The debut album, Lunar Citadel, is an elusive, space-based journey through ambient/atmospheric black metal soundscapes
By Justin C.

Markov Soroka gave me a challenge two-and-a-half years ago, namely how to write about his Aureole project. The debut album, Alunar, is an elusive, space-based journey through ambient/atmospheric black metal soundscapes, and as much as I liked it, its ethereal qualities made it difficult to put into words why I liked it so much.

Artwork by Adam Burke.

Now, after a long gestation process, we have the debut of another Soroka project, Tchornobog. On its face, the self-titled Tchornobog album seems like something more tangible to sink our ear-teeth into. The first track, "The Vomiting Tchornobog," starts immediately with a blackened death fury, with mysterious-sounding roars and frantic guitars and rhythm--solid meat and potatoes stuff. But before we're done with this nearly 20-minute-long track, tempos slow to doomier sounds, harsh brass sounds you might expect from hell's own marching band blare through, and at some points, the music almost slows to a crawl.

The question, of course, is this the hallmark of an incoherent mess or some larger plan? Although at some points I thought a little could have been trimmed from the longer tracks on this album (the four tracks clock in at over an hour), I've finally landed firmly into the "larger plan" camp. The fascinating thing about Tchornobog is that, in spite of being generally heavier than Aureole, it also possesses an elusive quality to it, some slippery bit that's hard to put your finger on, but makes you want to listen more. I've given it many listens since I got my grubby hands on the promo, and it still both fascinates me and, at times, eludes my attempts to pin it down in words.

Artwork by Adam Burke.

About that title: Tchornobog refers to a Slavic "black god" with many spellings and seemingly only speculation about how this particular god was viewed or understood. Reading the lyrics at a surface level, one might be convinced that Soroka just wanted to take a break from metal's Cthulhu worship and do something a little different, but his stated intentions describe the use of Tchornobog in more of a metaphorical context, including "a testament to those with severe illness and a nod to those of a religious related coping mechanism for the fear of death"

That said, I'm always hesitant to try to impose my own understandings on other people's lyrics, so I'll shift focus to the music itself. "The Vomiting Tchornobog" will give you a general idea of what's to come in the album (although the vomiting sound effects at the end of the track don't seem to recur), but I think the crown jewel of this album is the third track, "Non-existence's Warmth." The track opens with buzzing cellos and minimal percussion opening up to a descending guitar riff that's both eerie and melancholy at the same time. More quiet, clean guitars add to the song's strong melodic sense, and before the whole thing's done, we're treated to some saxophone playing (tenor, unless my ear betrays me), heavy riffs that manage to be both majestic and meditative at the same time. There's even more to unpack before the heavier fare kicks back in much later in the song. It's a monument.

I've known about this album for a while, impatiently waiting as it's struggled to make its way to the light of day, so there was certainly a danger of the album failing to live up to extended anticipation built up in my own head. I'm happy to say that it exceeded my hopes anyway.

  1. This is pretty intense, even overwhelmingly dark.

    I LIKE IT. It reminds me somewhat of the relentlessness of Blut Aus Nord or even Aevangelist (more "melodic" than the latter, of course).

    Great discovery!

    1. Glad you couldn't stay quiet :) And yeah, you can hear a lot of things in that album, a friend mentioned Skaphe and Ruins of Beverast. Yet it still feels unique.