Stryvigor‘s debut album Forgotten By Ages will perhaps appeal to only a small subset of metal fans, but what it sets out to do it accomplishes quite well. The Ukrainian trio have crafted an album whose sound mimics the trademark Eastern European atmospheric style popularized by Drudkh, Kroda, Forest, Khors, Walknut and other similar projects, and while this release doesn’t really add anything new to that genre it does an excellent job emulating the style of those bands. These guys are kind of like the Ukrainian black metal version of bands like Severed Savior or Defeated Sanity – they aren’t quite up to the level of genre heavyweights like Suffocation and Immolation, but if you pick the album up looking for a fix you’re not going to be let down.
Stryvigor has opted not to go the route of longer-winded groups like Drudkh and instead has populated their debut offering with songs that are short and to the point. The vocals help to make Stryvigor’s sound unmistakably Eastern European, as vocalist Dusk’s screams sound almost exactly like those of Khors or Forest and lend the songs that raw aggression, anguish and desperation that all bands from the region seem to share.
Musically, the tracks are not as aggressively intense as Kroda’s compositions for example, and Stryvigor also stays away from heavy usage of acoustic folk instruments. The band utilizes keyboards but avoids flirting with symphonic metal territory the way Khors often does. The guitars manage to strike a nice balance between the ultra-atmospheric, hypnotic tremolo riffing of Drudkh and the more traditional heavy metal style of Khors, which would be great except that most of the songs don’t end up being particularly memorable. The riffs are decent but for some reason, whether it’s lack of contrast or just really mediocre songwriting, very little stands out even after repeated listens. Nevertheless, the middle ground area that Stryvigor occupies within the genre might appeal to those who haven’t yet found the right band within the style for their personal listening tastes.
It’s a shame that the songs themselves aren’t a little better because the sound is one that I really enjoy. Forgotten By Ages ends up being an album that will likely only appeal to die-hard fans of the bands listed above, but Stryvigor is at least worth watching to see whether they up their game on future releases.