Walknut - Graveforests and their Shadows
Stellar Winter
Atmospheric Black Metal
6 songs (42:52)
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Tony
Archive review
I am not sure whether Atmospheric Black Metal in general appeals to me or if I have just not received any bad recommendations within the genre. Bands like Fauna, WITTR, Drudkh, Fen, and so many others have piqued my interest over the years. That kind of sound is perfect for droning tranquility, whether it be to relax on a rainy day, hypnotizing my spirit on a long road trip, or writing an essay for class.

Despite the simplicity of some of these riffs and their repetitive nature, Atmospheric Black Metal must be one of the hardest genres to write a great album for. The knowledge of music theory must be excellent. Adding a subtle nuance or a minor change in rhythm can alter a riff from continuous boredom to shining brilliance. The Slavic nation of Ukraine specifically excels in a hypnotic, melodic, and morose brand of Black Metal. With so much in common and a culture so intertwined, Russia may not be far behind.

Here we have Walknut. The side project of two members of Temnozor, another excellent band from the Motherland. Walknut in many ways could be seen as Russia’s counter to Drudkh. The latter being a well-established titan in the global Black Metal scene. While Walknut may never receive the same fanfare and exposure as their cousins to the West, their only album so far, Graveforests and their Shadows can run neck and neck with almost anything Drudkh have produced.

The purpose of this review is not to compare everything on Graveforests… to Drudkh, but to expose the band to a greater audience it is important that we have a line of similarity to relate to. Walknut have more blast beats, double bass, and general aggression than many of their genre specific counterparts. The frequent time changes with powerful, emotional riffs over a never complacent drum beat shows that Walknut have what it takes to compose a wonderful song for each track listing. Intelligently though, Walknut still know what Atmospheric Black Metal is all about, and never try too hard to dazzle us with stellar musicianship, knowing well that this genre is rooted in consistency and the aura the riffs summon. Graveforests and their Shadows. has two short tracks to begin and end the album, with the very short minute long Hrimfaxi providing a beautiful ambient prelude to the most popular track Motherland Ostenvegr. This song begins with a catchy riff that is as memorable as it is strong in preparing the listener for three tracks clocking in at over ten minutes. The vocals are of the mid to high register and are howled more than anything. Walknut only has two members, only one playing ALL of the instruments. The other is the lyricist. I am unsure how someone who simply writes lyrics can take credit for an album, as if Lil Wayne’s ghost writer gets credited on his album cover.

Regardless of who gets credit for what, Walknut does indeed have brilliant lyrics and a beautiful tone to match. The guitars are buzzy and overdriven but not to the point where they sound discombobulated and obnoxious. The drums display a decent amount of speed here and there but truly shine in moments like the alternating ride-heavy rhythms such as the one in Motherland Ostenvegr. The mix on Graveforests… is near perfect, with no instrument or vocal track overriding the other. Come, Dreadful Ygg is one of the few tracks I have heard in the genre to begin with blast beats. The pace is solid, with bleak and dark waves of guitar and bass cascading over the blasts. This song bears a surprising amount of intensity compared to other related acts. Instead of slowing down from the blasts, a quickened double bass beat laid over a quarter note high hat rhythm carries the entry of the vocals and maintains the heaviness of the track. This track is over 12 minutes long, yet never dulls and never fails to draw my attention. The small alternations in the drum beats such as the way cymbals are struck or the timing of snare strikes makes each track as pristine as ever.

The Midnightforest of the Runes once again shows that a simple riff with small changes in rhythm and treble can keep a track moving along with efficacy and beauty. One listen to the drumming on this album will explain everything. Just how each minor difference in beat keeps the listener on their toes, wide awake, yearning for more like the next page of a great novel. This track is an instrumental, yet the absence of vocals does nothing to take away from the Progressive intricacies laid down by the drums. While the same riff is played nearly the entire time, the riff stays fresh with the drums stealing the show. The fifth and final lengthy track on Graveforests and their Shadows. is the 13 minute Grim Woods.

Once again a wall of virulent dark tones laid over rapid and clockwork blast beats makes way for a scream from the vocal department. This, clearly paving the way for the opus of the album. The melody behind the walled riff provides a dark, bleak, yet somehow climactic sound. These riffs could be the framework to the finale of a great war film. So many visions are characterized by these unsettling, atonal sounds. The adrenaline rush coupled with the imaginative fret work is a machination I have not truly experienced before in this sect of Black Metal. Walknut take the standard two guitar wall/melody attack and work it to its core, shaking the genre at its roots. This is thoroughly vivid, an environment conjured by the most well devised tones and rhythms, one of the best Atmospheric Black Metal albums I have heard. Let us hope that these two will continue on with both the Folkloric beauty of Temnozor and the incredible milieu of Walknut.

Killing Songs :
Motherland Ostenvegr, Come, Dreadful Ygg, The Midnightforest of the Runes, Grim Woods.
Tony quoted 91 / 100
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