Long held as one of the most tried and true martial orchestral projects to ever grace the face of the genre, Rukkanor will soon be celebrating a decade of existence in 2014. For the man behind the music, Robert J. Marciniak, that road — until recently — has been one of relative comfort, needing only to rely on his own largely celebrated label in War Office Propaganda / Rage in Eden to push his unique vision outwards into the post-industrial world. Indeed, prior to Deccarah, Rukkanor’s only exposure outside of WOP/RIE was on compilation appearances that ranged from Steinklang Industries‘ tribute to Koji Tano to Kaos ex Machina‘s download-only Where are you Europe?. Unfortunately, some time after the release of 2009’s Almetodhe, Rage in Eden suffered an unknown rift that ended with Marciniak leaving his then-label partner, Marcin Bachtiak of Cold Fusion, as the sole proprietor of the label. With that, Marciniak apparently has had to find a new home for Rukkanor, which currently appears, at least for the moment, to be the most aesthetically fitting in Germany’s SkullLine.
The word “Deccarah” doesn’t appear to mean much of anything, as far as I can tell, but with the root of the word being “Dec”, it would have an interval of ten (i.e. “decade”), so perhaps this is subliminally — or subconsciously — a celebration of Rukkanor’s decennial. Deccarah opens with a focused strength in the familiar sounds of “Before the Dawn”, with its Middle Eastern melodic influences, minimalist synth, complex percussive elements and mid-paced martial bombast that harkens all the way back to the project’s sophomore effort, Deora. Relative Western elements begin to appear with the most emotionally gripping or sombre moments, like those in “Warriors of God”, “Song of the Damned”, and “The Commandment” where Gregorian Chant and/or Latin hymns as well as the strong brass sound of trumpet are utilized to bring about that air of spiritual conflict between East and West that Rukkanor has become known for — a battlefield where the foolish, incongruous interests of man play out as he desperately clings to something that he can neither prove nor fully understand. In a similar interpretation, Rukkanor has the dualistic role of being Marciniak’s personal Book of Light, where his own spiritual interests are given a forum for expression, itself representing the natural ambiguous nature of that part of the human experience that has been so thoroughly deformed by organized religion.
In part, Decarrah is also plagued by an ambivalent sense of direction, in which a solid portion of the compositions feel eager to return to the project’s roots (Requiem for K-141 KYPCK excluded), especially in terms of memorable tracks from the artist’s past like “Damascus”. Another portion of it, namely the more specific religious music overtones, seems to want to progress beyond what Rukkanor has previously been able to create. The songs are certainly more complex and produced far better than they’ve ever been (see the incredible sound quality on “In War we Trust”, which I dare say somehow manages to border on the great Therion in professional orchestral resemblance), but when you hear Deccarah for that first time and you’re familiar with the artist’s past releases, you automatically know who it is behind the music because of his signature style. Admittedly, the album drags a bit after “Song of the Damned” with the slim exception of the cinematic “Crusader”, so I wouldn’t say that Deccarah is a ground-breaking release, but it’s certainly a highlight of Rukkanor’s discography thus far, and miles apart from a great deal of what the martial industrial scene has had to offer lately.
01) Before the Dawn
03) Warriors of God
04) Rivers of Light (Sea of Shadows)
06) In War we Trust
07) Song of the Damned
08) The Commandment
09) Vir Triumphalis
11) A New Dawn