If you’ve never delved into the mystic world of MALOKARPATAN before, I strongly advise you to do so. Vertumnus Caesar is a perfect entry point for getting to know this extremely quirky metal band from Slovakia. Their sound has echoes of many of the giants of the past, yet it still manages to be its own animal, with a completely singular identity.
These guys really do sound like they’ve come from a different time and place. They are deeply steeped in the lore of Central Europe and their lyrics and song titles are all in jaw-breaking Slovakian that I will not attempt to reproduce. This part of the world has thrown up some pretty strange bands like MASTER’S HAMMER and ROOT and MALOKARPATAN is definitely in that mold and are the best yet. This is progressive metal of an ancient vintage, with callbacks to MERCYFUL FATE, VENOM, Ozzy-era SABBATH, BULLDOZER and more. With that they also toss copious influences from creepy Italian prog like JACULA and ANTONINUS REX, synth-driven soundscape acts like GOBLIN and archaic folk rock not a million miles from TULL. What a hideous mish-mash, you say? Listen, and hear how it’s all blended to create something old and magical.
One of my favorite tracks here is the adventurous and enchanting instrumental ‘The Mansion Of Dragons Is In The Caverns Of The Earth’, a rough translation of the Slovakian title. It starts with sprightly synth that hooks you and then transforms into classic metal and hard-driven prog. It’s such a beautiful track to listen to, with perfect transitions between the various parts. On the other hand, ‘The Maharal And The Golem’ is straightforward headbanging underground metal of pure 80’s vintage. The vocals are a gruff, semi-spoken and very “Carpathian” kind of grumble that gives things a black metal touch. The album ends with the lush epic ‘And Lo, The Imperial Star Thus Descends’,which meshes metal and prog seamlessly.
MALOKARPATAN’s albums are like unknown territory you explore, without knowing what is over the next hill or around the next corner. This is one of its chief delights. Not much more I can say about Vertumnus Caesar, except check it out if you’re bored with monotone metal that stays in the same lane all the time.
Review By: Dr. Abner Mality
Invictus Productions / The Ajna Offensive