Graveland - Carpathian Wolves (1994)Release ID: 8052
A simplistic yet atmospheric album that's certainly worth checking out for true black metal fans.
This is the first time I've spent much time with a Graveland album. I've come across the name many times over the years, which is hardly surprising considering this Polish band have put out over 15 releases since 1994. But perhaps "band" is the wrong word for Graveland as this is really the work of Rob Darken for the most part, being the sole member on many of the previously mentioned releases. All this said, debut album Carpathian Wolves does have a separate drummer (Capricornus) and bassist (Karcharoth).
Carpathian Wolves contains simplistic black metal really and its production is rather weak. But as any black metal fan will know, those two features can often combine to form great albums, as this style of music doesn't always require technicality or clarity. In the case of Carpathian Wolves, I think it does end up being a rather atmospheric listen, but it does pale a little in comparison to other albums released around the same time (Ulver, Burzum, Darkthrone etc.).
The intro to the album is excellent and sets the mood perfectly for what's to come. It's followed by the highlight of the album for me being Barbarism Returns which has some nice riffs and very effective keyboard work. In fact, the keyboards are important on this album, often turning some average tracks into quite memorable and entertaining ones. Rob's vocals are in typical black metal form (i.e. raspy and evil), but I like them quite a lot. The drumming is adequate if simplistic as are the riffs but that's not really the point.
The real reason to listen to Carpathian Wolves is the atmosphere and, on that level, I think the album is entirely successful and worthy of a listen or two for anyone into black metal. As mentioned earlier, Barbarism Returns is great as are Witches Holocaust, At the Pagan Samhain Night and Unpunished Herd. If it wasn't for a couple of forgettable tracks in the middle, I may have rated this higher. I look forward to checking out more Graveland albums in the future.