Released: 2015, Darker Than Black Records
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Released near the beginning of this year, “Zakon Zbroi” is the sophomore album of the Belarus-based pagan black metal band, Massenhinrichtung. Despite this being their seventh release, this is the first time that the band has used Cyrillic letters in the naming of their albums, perhaps bringing to the fore their patriotic stance. With their name stemming from the German term for mass extinction, it comes as little surprise that much of their lyrical content revolves around the idea of war, with “Zakon Zbroi” being no exception. Based on a vast corpus of research, “Zakon Zbroi” (which translates to “The order of the force”) deals with the hostilities that took place in Belarus around the Second World War. This militant influence can clearly be seen at first glance, with the album artwork depicting a soldier and canon.
Melting in slowly, “The Dawn Upon The Bug River” really does whisper in before waxing into a fiery onslaught with “The Order Of Force”, just like a metaphorical sun ascending on its flaming journey across the skies. Here, the violin adds a melancholic undertow to the blistering and searing track, countering the ferocity with a maudlin voice. What is interesting is the juxtaposition created by the aggressive music focused on war and the pagan influences that are blended into the music. Atmospheric passages balance out the more vicious sections, giving the soundscapes mesmerising and captivating textures, a skill which is artfully brought to shine in “The Ghost Of Devastated Motherland”. Blacker influences come more to the shine in the pinnacle of the album: “The Blizzard”. With this, the band shows a very unique and interesting aspect which sadly does not come to the fore enough. With a total run time just shy of three-quarters of an hour, “Zakon Zbroi” has some long and epic tracks, providing more than enough time to play around with variations in tempo and style, weaving together a tapestry of sounds. However, on the flip side, this can lead to certain sections becoming rather drawn out. Nevertheless, featuring guest musicians on bagpipes and violins, “Zakon Zbroi” comes across as richer because of this, with these instruments helping bring to life the more pagan aspects of the music. Closing off on the evocative song “The Dusk”, Massenhinrichtung has taken us through an entire cycle, be it from morning to night, from pagan to black, or merely from the beginning to end.
Overall, this is a decent album with some great potential. True, it has some rough patches, but the band does also seem to be underestimated somewhat. The production quality of “Zakon Zbroi” is decent, although some parts are slightly underwhelming: certain sections of the album could have sounded vastly more powerful and gripping with a clearer mix and a stronger guitar presence. Nevertheless, Massenhinrichtung have shown that they are a multifaceted band, and have released a rollercoaster of an album that flips from sheer melancholy to ferocious bellicosity and back again with a seamless grace. This is one of those albums in which you discover something new each time you give it a listen. Definitely something worth checking out.
Review by Erika Kuenstler