Album Review: ADARVIROG “Kraj Padanniau” [Song Stream]

Have I got something new for you all! So we here at Metal Nexus received a strange looking album in a language none of us could quite translate, and left our editors Fist and Rattlehead scratching their heads. After using a mixture of Serbian, Russian, and English keyboards, plus some dedicated searching, we found the very unique works of Adarvirog. And this review will be a touch different from what we’re used to, between discussing the Belarusian elements, attempts at pronunciation, and translations.

Adarvirog are a folk metal band hailing from Minsk, Belarus. They include seven members that play some very unique instruments that, truthfully, I wasn’t aware even existed. The singers are Usevalad Gaponenka (also guitarist) and Leanid Audzej-Zhihunou. Some of the standard band members are Alexi Bykovski, their bassist, Mikita Lahavy, their drummer, and their violinist Karalina Nasko. Then they have Valeryi Mashel who plays mandolin, bouzouki and the hurdy-gurdy, and Viktar Lagacki who plays accordian, bagpipes and the hurdy-gurdy. The group started in 2013 and played folk festivals until they finalized their lineup last year. This year they released their debut album in July, also the album I’m about to throw at you, “Kraj Padanniau.” (A word with Aleksi told us that the title roughly translates to “Legends” or “Land of Tales.”)

Now this review took longer than I intended for it to, but not for any bad reasons. Honestly, I couldn’t stop listening to the album long enough to start typing. “Kraj Padanniau” is described on Adarvirog‘s page as having “An overall plot, which almost invisibly lines from song to song. It tells how we see the present Belarusian as one was seen by the rest of the world in the past. Desperate and indestructible, taking his own blood and life to defend his land and ideals, but one who remembers that life has a pleasant side. It tells who we would like each of our compatriots to be.” When I first received the album, one of the things I loved about it was it’s appearance as a kind of Belarusian story book, with words in another language entirely alongside illustrations that accentuate the renaissance feeling you get listening to the album. Finding out the album acts as a story as well just made it that much greater for me.

I’ve been primarily listening to the album on repeat in my car, which makes me feel somewhat like I’m driving through Vana’diel on a daily basis. I absolutely love it. The first track is “Viasnovaja,” an instrumental song whose title translates to Spring Song. The bagpipes and violin together automatically start the folk feel that had me begging to get this album. From there it goes to the self titled song “Adarvirog,” about a knight whose journey home led him to a village being terrorized by a demon. Adarvirog translates roughly to “One who tore the horn.” Here, the knight battles the Devil himself, tears his horn off and uses it for a drinking horn. Tell me you don’t already want to go on an adventure two songs in.

The next isn’t my favorite track but it’s definitely a close second. “Pieravaracien”, or Werewolf tells of a legend, where a girl fell for a boy her father did not approve of. The boy didn’t want to be with people anymore and heard lore of dropping blood on an old oak tree turning you. The legend was true and he turned into a wolf. The girl attempted the same but as I don’t speak Belarusian (though listening to this album I really wish I did) I don’t know if she finds her love. I like this song because, well one I love folk metal anyway so these guys may have had an advantage in the first place, and two, behind the folky renaissance sound there’s wolves growling and howling. I’m listening to it right now. I want to adventure through a forest.

Bear with me, it’s just such a fun album. My absolute favorite track is the sixth, “Plesnia Blelaruskich Zaunlerau,” the Song of Belarusian Soldiers. It’s a recruiting song, where the singer is a peasant calling his compatriots to join the Kosciuszko Uprising against Imperial Russia. This is the song I get stuck in my head the most, which sounds weird, given I don’t speak a word of Belarusian. But phonetically I sing along to the chorus every playthrough. And I’ve told you before, I’m a sucker for double bass. About a minute in, there’s a bit that reminds me of everyone’s favorite part of “One” which is probably why I’m as excited as I am about this song. And at the absolute end of the album, about a minute after Pan Manelih ends, there’s a Belarusian Beavis and Butthead. I was not expecting it at all so to accidentally stumble on that recording made my entire day. I have no eartly idea what they’re saying but trust me, you know who it is. (Insert signature laughs.)

I loved this album, despite not speaking the same language to fully understand it. It’s adventurous and fun and I literally can not stop listening to it. It’s even earned a permanent spot in my car’s CD player. Listen to it, seriously. I hope Adarvirog make it to the U.S. some day because I’d be absolutely ecstatic to see them live.

Track List:
Viasnovaja (Spring Song)
Pieravaracien (Werewolf)
Balada pra Paustanca Vaukalaku (Ballad of Rebel Vaukalaka)
Zabi Vyratavalnika (Kill The Savior)
Piesnia Bielaruskich Zaunierau (Song of Belarusian Soldiers)
Skroz Piekla (Through Hell)
Chareja (Chorea)
Adarvirog II
Zorny Sliach (Star Path)
Pan Manelih (Herr Mannelig)

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