Anonymity adds a certain flair to black metal. An added layer of mystery on top of tremolo picking and blast beats really gives arrangements a shrouded edge. Metaphorically removing the tangible elements—the flesh and blood—behind the music allows someone to engage with the album in any way they see fit. The music voids any preconceived notions from a creator because, on paper, there isn’t one. There’s magic in that. For the enigmatic sect, Koldovstvo, it’s bewitching black magic.
Their name roughly translates to “witchcraft” from Russian. That’s not to assume the band is Russian, or even European for that matter. Koldovstvo has anonymity nailed down. No names, country of origin, number of members, and as their debut album’s title suggests no gods, no masters. Ni Tsarya, Ni Boga, the Russian translation and official name of the record, is an effort steeped in arcane power. Slavic cultures have a rich and deep history of folklore and magic—dating back to a time before Christ—that has weaved its way through its storied nobility and into Soviet history books.
Ni Tsarya, Ni Boga‘s cover depicts a famous painting by Konstantin Flavitsky entitled Princess Tarakanova, in the Peter and Paul Fortress at the Time of the Flood. Flavitsky’s masterwork is based on the legend of Princess Tarakanova, a pretender to the Russian throne. In the painting, she’s shown dying in a flood in the prison she was kept in once she was discovered she had no ties to the throne. In actuality, she was believed to have died of tuberculosis. Popular theories and ideas suggest she faked her death and lived the remainder of her life as a nun. As one can imagine, as the definitive narrative has failed to find a resolution, folktales and magical ideas bloomed in its stead.
Tales of magic and divinations surround the princess and the quest to bring her back to Russia to atone for her wrongdoings in literary tales to this day. Magic and divinations surround Koldovstvo‘s six tracks as well. Nebulous howls and chants seem to crawl from different parts of the mix. Entrancing riffs and blasts permeate the psyche. Each song is a spell or an incantation that pulls someone further into Ni Tsarya, Ni Boga. Throughout the record, there are various samples that seem to be plucked from centuries-old songs to accentuate the band’s mystique. This combined with Koldovstvo‘s genial grasp on off-kilter, atmospheric black metal makes this record an early standout in this year’s black metal.
Ni Tsarya, Ni Boga officially arrives this Friday through Babylon Doom Cult Records (LP, CD, EU/RoW), Extraconscious Records (LP, USA), and Fólkvangr Records (CS, USA). Purchase a digital copy from the band directly. Listen to an exclusive stream of the record now.