Kauan – Sorni Nai (Blood Music)

Friday, 27th November 2015
Rating: 8.5/10

If Bandcamp has provided this writer with anything, it’s that the Russian metal scene is one that is booming, and always producing exceptional, under-the-radar stuff. The Russian/Ukranian band Kauan is the latest to surface from this vast well, with last year’s Pirut serving as a fine introduction to the doom/post-rock/folk group. This is a band firing on all cylinders, and this year’s Sorni Nai is practically begging to be heard.

A concept album about a group of nine Russian hikers in the Djatlov Pass in 1959 who all died in mysterious circumstances, all written in the native Mansi tongue, provides the backdrop for this 52-minute song (that has been cut up into 7 sections). The band’s strongest element is that of the atmosphere. The beginning of the album beautifully opens with soundtrack-quality imagery, complete with some howling winds and chants alongside some very somber strings to really engage the listener from the get-go. Every movement seems deliberate and methodical, really taking the audience on an emotional adventure. There are highs and lows, and that’s only in the first 8-minutes of “Akva.” The heavier moments are few and far between if that is an issue for folks (the first don’t come until near the end of “Kit”), but the controlled chaos serves to provide some great transitions (“Nila”). The soaring melodies of “At” is another highlight, particularly as it begins to shift towards something more sorrow-filled and glum as the piece progresses. This is an album meant to be taken in all at once, with your full attention span.

Not at all a traditional metal release by any means, but don’t let that stop you from checking out Sorni Nai. Rare is it to find a band that can pull off so many emotions in one doom-ish landscape – joy, excitement, trepidation, sadness. Kauan can run the gamut while staying true to a vision that is entirely their own. Expressive and poignant stuff worth taking a trip with.

Kauan on Facebook