It’s not often that a concept EP about the Human Nature of Ukrainian mythological creatures, and the world’s duality comes about. As someone fascinated by mythology from across the globe, I felt compelled to give the new Bestia album by Ignea my full attention as rumour of a third, full-length album was teased for 2022 when they signed on with Napalm Records in June 2021. Bestia is said to be a treat; something to tide us over until the third album’s release.
In Ukrainian, “Bestia” means both a savage beast as well as a mischievous person, and this album lives up to its title. This split record consists of songs from two Ukranian bands – Ignea, and Ersedu – the result of a thriving 10-year friendship.
Ignea is a Ukrainian melodic metal band that combines heavy riffs with symphonic, electro folk elements to tell stories and create a powerful OST-like experience. They stay true to the melodic scene by adding touches of brutality in the use of extreme vocals, blast beats, and breakdowns. With 1 EP, 2 full-length albums, 5 singles, and 8 official videos under their belt, it seems that Ignea is still filled with surprises, even after the release of their first song back in 2015. This was an original song that was the first to ever be released by Ukrainian band, that included full symphonic orchestrations, titled ‘Alga’.
Ignea begins the EP with their song ‘Bosorkun’ which, in common folklore, tells the tale of an evil mountain spirit who kills with the power of wind, and sends drought and illness to plague both people and animals alike. However, in this variation, the tale is told differently. The spirit is kind but, still holds a destructive nature and its only wish is to befriend humanity so that they may trade their immortality for Humanity’s world.
‘Bosorkun’ comes in like a whirlwind that twirls and entices listeners with ferocious speed and enigmatic clean vocals, commonly found with the talent that is Helle Bogdanova. It is short and sweet but, delicate with notes of playful keyboarding from Yevhenii Zhytniuk that only add to its alluring nature. Passion lures you in while Ivan Kholmohorov’s intense drum work keeps you hooked. It is reminiscent of the singing-style in ‘Jinnslammer’ – one of my favourite Ignea songs to date, which is likely why ‘Bosorkun’ is also my favourite on this EP.
Their second track, ‘Magura’s Last Kiss’ is said to be sung on behalf of the Slavic Valkyrie – the winged, warlike cloud maiden and daughter of the Thunderer, Perun. With her wings she overshadows those who fall in battle, softly touches their lips, and gives them the living water to drink from a golden cup. This is how they ascend to Vyriy – the heavenly palace for eternal life. In this song, Magura has grown tired of war and says that “peace can be bold and knightly”. To end it, she kisses herself, and ascends to Vyriy.
This track comes in strong with eerie chants and a dreadful harmony. It grows in power until it consumes you entirely with a heavy aura and splendid combination of otherworldly vocals and the talented bass work that comes from Xander Kamyshin. High-flying strings like that of Dmitry Vinnichenko’s style echo out in this track like a familiar fairytale – captivating and mysterious all the same. The third track, titled ‘Mermaids’ is a song from both bands about Mavkas, or Ukrainian Sirens who cannot find their place anywhere in the world – neither in land nor on shore. As Humans, they are bored of their balanced lives, trapped by the problems that they, themselves, manifest. This track starts out like the familiar tune of an old folk song but, quickly picks up the pace an intensity with the lingering cinematic undertones you commonly find in storytelling. This song takes you on a Mermaid’s journey through pain, pleasure, and dissatisfaction. It’s a beautifully articulated melodic balance between Ignea and Ersedu that quickly grows on you, like that of the encroaching high tide under a fearsome full moon.
The next few tracks come from Ersedu – a symphonic death metal project filled with noir-style cinematic epics touched by antiquity. Inspired by musicians like Septicflesh, Devin Townsend, and Alan Silvestri, each song is made in worship of endless darkness; told through sensual clean vocals, eerie growls, and strategic orchestral arrangements.
After a full-length album release in 2011 titled NC-17, Ersedu took a 9-year break to pursue other musical aspirations. However, their 10-year friendship with Ignea, combined with the pandemic, opened a new chapter in metal history for Ersedu – Bestia.
Their first track from the album, ‘Black Garden’ is the story of Zmiy – a dragon who could destroy and poison the gardens and lands but, also take disaster away from humanity. Seduction of a girl is common in Zmiy’s telling, and occurs, as well, in this track. Zmiy seduces her with his dark love, and she dissolves into him when she finally accepts his truth.
‘Black Garden’ awakens in the veil of shadow through a cacophony of eerie echoes and soundless motions. Once this track breaks free, you can truly feel the fear as called forth by its melody. It’s frightful and enchanting with heavy drums, and harsh vocals that quickly become a favourite of any black metal fan.
‘Eaters of the Sun’ is their second track that leads you down a twisting pathway of light and dark, where the endless cycle of death and rebirth haunt both mind and ear with a story all too relatable. Siren-like vocals pierce the cascading darkness to bring an aura of sorrow to this dark fairytale and leaves you begging for a deeper insight into the hows and whys the cycle continues eternally. This song is a myth about the historical astrological ambivalence of good and evil, light and dark, or day and night in endlessness. It’s a hymn of balance, and the rational Human who accepts both light and dark as his own, as well as accepts himself as a part of the cosmos and its bestial creatures.
The end track, ‘The Symphony of Bestia’ envelops this EP in its entirety with beautiful orchestrations that leads me to believe I’m watching an epic fantasy film. There is familiar pain, overwhelming pride, cautious joy, and intense sorrow that continues to climb toward climax seemingly with no end. At almost 16 minutes in length, this track is no simple fairytale but, a journey there and back again that one must undertake to truly close this melodic chapter once and for all.
There is no shortness of epic orchestration or tantalizing vocal displays throughout this album, and it has easily slid into my own playlist of inspiring music when I need that cinematic-level pick-me-up. BESTIA will debut on October 21st, 2021 on all streaming services, and as well be available as a digipak CD, and Vinyl. Physical formats will also contain ‘The Symphony of BESTIA’ – a mix of orchestral arrangements used in the five songs from the EP.
Release Date: October 21st, 2021
Label: Napalm Records
2. Magura’s Last Kiss
4. Black Garden
5. Eaters of the Sun
6. The Symphony of BESTIA