There is an inherent connection between nature and the celestial. Pagan thought is usually quick to embrace both in a symbolic sense at least, and given that Paganism is hinged on perceivable surroundings, it is little wonder that many in the faith would look to the skies for inspiration. While pagan black metal tends to remain grounded (in more ways than one), my first impression towards Bureviy (or Буревій) was how complimentary they were able to make the two spheres, evoking space without losing any of their hearty folkish warmth. Upon my very first glance of the album cover, I thought I was looking inside a nebula. Were it not for the trees scattered throughout the bottom half, it may not have been so obvious that it’s actually a snowstorm. Certainly more predictable territory for a pagan black metal band, but the celestial implication still weighs heavily on me every time I look at it.
That Concealed Beyond the Space isn’t quite as promising as its gorgeous artwork is little matter; Bureviy may not be treading outside the genre’s norm like the grand space-pagan fusion I may have been expecting, but for what they are and have set out to do on their debut, I’d say that these Ukrainians have started on a noble path for themselves. I suspect many potential fans may come upon them for their links to their Darker than Black label-mates Kroda. Kroda’s live drummer Jotunhammer performs on the album, and their former bassist Beralb has also been a part of Bureviy at some point. Although I might say the association should bring some fans their way who will have an existing taste for Bureviy’s music, it would go too far to say the two sound alike. Bureviy is considerably cleaner sounding, more melodic, and lack the ambient whistles and synths that run heavily in Kroda’s particualr style of pagan black metal. There’s still something to be said for a band that sticks to a strictly bass/guitar/drums instrumental unit, when the common trends lean otherwise.
For a debut, Concealed Beyond the Space offers some impressively well-rounded material. Although they’re cautious to extend much past the comfort of five-minute song structures, the material nonetheless has the feeling of much vaster compositions. It rarely sounds like Bureviy are in any hurry to get their composition from points A to B. The material on Concealed Beyond the Space essentially manages to condense the experience of longer pagan-black epics into smaller sized doses without compromising the ingredients themselves. Although there’s not a great deal behind the interlacing of acoustic guitars and sweeping melodic harmonies that serves to stand out from many of their peers, they know their way around composition and write to suit their genre pretty well. Whether they go a step further and rewrite some of the book themselves remains to be seen.
The most striking element on Concealed Beyond the Space, undoubtedly, are the screamed vocals. Bureviy’s music actually employs the use of two vocalists: one clean, the other harsh. Nemezis‘ resonating baritone is virtually indistinguishable from the typical use of cleans in pagan metal, but White Fury‘s howl is something else. It is the kind of tortured scream that might only sound comfortable in the most self-agonizing depressive black metal. It made sense of learn that White Fury is actually a woman (as is the band’s bassist, ValkyriAnn); from the very beginning, her vocals gave me the strong impression of a banshee, screaming blasphemy from the depths of the forest. Although Bureviy hits the expected marks in other areas, White Fury’s high-register howl will be a likely bump in the road for some. From where I’m listening, it adds a shade of individuality to Bureviy that might otherwise have been unfortunately lacking here.
Ultimately speaking, Concealed Beyond the Space is a solid statement from this new band, and while Bureviy may have a hard time distinguishing themselves with such a familiar pagan palette, they’ve already demonstrated their potential in several ways, not least of which is the chilling screams of their frontwoman.
02) In Bonds of Waves
04) Concealed Beyond the Space
05) The Lace of the Norns