This release snuck up on me. I hadn’t been anticipating it when out of nowhere I became enticed by the prideful, and melodic sounds of the East. Nokturnal Mortum (Ukraine) and Graveland (Poland) joined forces to release a split for the first time since Eastern Hammer and the result is of epic proportion.
I’m grateful that Nokturnal Mortum kicked off this album because they took advantage of the privilege in a creative way. The first note of the split is the signature, folk inspired intro to Voice of Steel. The Spirit Never Dies isn’t some re-release of old Voice of Steel songs, however. Those songs are perfect as it is. What the intro suggests the new material is on par with the gloriousness of Voice of Steel. Their suggestion is zealous but not significantly.
The Spirit Never Dies exemplifies an interesting growth and progression in the band’s sound. Voice of Steel was a xenophobic battle cry; energetic and alive. The Spirit Never Dies carries a more tortured ambience. Ever since Lemmy passed on to a bar somewhere in Valhalla, I’ve been noticing a lot of bands writing riffs that sound like they’re inspired by Motorhead. It’s a chicken/egg situation really. Was he influential is ways I hadn’t noticed before, or did his passing inspire the musicians writing more recently? Track two, entitled Східний Злам, definitely has a bit of a fist pumping quality to it in spots.
The songs are complex though, allowing for several progressions throughout them. Track two deviates from a tortured, Drudkh inspired ambience, to soulful guitar solos, and even aggressive, symphonic interludes. В Кайданах Часу continues down this emotional joyride with an even more tortured atmosphere that could be comparable to DSBM. Old Ygg also comes to mind. What’s also nice about track three is the placement of the keyboard parts adds zero faggottry (faggottry- a word I made up,meaning to make more gay) to the sound, but only add an aureate feel whispering in the background. I’m beginning to believe Nokturnal Mortum is incapable of failure when it comes to writing music. This album gives credence to that argument. 9/10 only because nothing compares to the greatness of Voice of Steel.
Graveland has never been my first choice of band to listen to but nonetheless, I respect the Hell out of Rob Darken’s creative ability. Thankfully, his addition to The Spirit Never Dies wasn’t another mediocre attempt to recreate Hammerheart era Bathory, but it also might not have been the most inspired effort either. The intro to Graveland’s portion of the split is epic and emotional at the same time and there are several spots throughout each of the songs that are easy to lose yourself into.
The problem I have with this effort though is its almost rebellious refusal to climax into intensity. It’s like when you’re getting head and your partner goes up for air right before you’re about to cum. You were so close!
That said, the ethereal atmosphere does have a calming effect and is great in spots. The Last Dawn, in particular has remarkably beautiful folk elements sprinkled throughout it. Unfortunately, three minutes into the song, Rob Darken comes up for air. Overall, this effort is enjoyable but maybe not as memorable as Nokturnal Mortum’s addition to the split. 6/10 because it failed to make me climax.