Released: 2009, Nailboard Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
Digging an old graveyard is always lots of fun and exciting to do. You just never know in advance what you are about to found. Sometimes you found nothing than ordinary bones and skulls, but every now and then you may found some real treasures that should be brought back to the daylight again.
This is what the leading Estonian metal label, Nailboard Records, has seemed to be doing lately. First they released Estonian death metal legends, Forgotten Sunrise's early releases on one CD - and they got their hands on the Estonian pagan/black metal forerunners Tharaphita's early stuff (their 4-track demo from 1996 and self-released debut album from 1998), giving those 2 releases a treatment that they both undoubtedly deserve - and at the same time, just adding a little bit more fuel to their concept about their own 'gems from the Estonian metal vault' thing.
Tharapita's 4-track demo from 1996, titled KUI VARJUD PÕLEVAD, is a good presentation about the band's early pagan/black metal roots, accompanying occasional keyboard parts and Viking type of choirs here and there that were somewhat clumsily used within their songs back in the day, and were still kind of looking for their own fitting place in the band's song structures. Overall the demo sounds unpolished and raw (especially the guitar's tone is raw in the recording), but what more one can expect from a demo that was recorded 14 years ago already?
RAEV (meaning 'rage' in English), Tharapita's 6-song debut album, was a more advanced and polished sounding effort, more or less building up the band's songs steadily and firmly into a bigger and richer sound, and directing it towards more epic and pompous soundscapes what they were about become known for later years to come. The diversity of the songs that they have succeeded in creating compared to the songs of their 1996 demo was already very significant, and may I even say, quite drastically noticeable indeed with a pile of some very good melody lines loaded into the songs and stuff.
RAEV gained some reputation among a small group of devoted underground pagan/black metal fans only, but never really brought any mass acceptance to them. Those years are yet to come, I guess.
This collection of Tharapita's past gems is very well made nonetheless, giving a good insight into the band's past times how they sounded like back then, plus it's also a well put together continuum to Nailboard Records for their treasure hunt in an ancient Estonian graveyard to get some of these Estonian metal gems re-released again.