Nokturnal Mortum is a name one should only ever drop with caution. They are unfortunately the flagship band of the Ukrainian white supremacist nsbm scene. One might expect idiotic ideas to lead to pretty dim-witted music, but Nokturnal Mortum broke the mold. In fact, they’re one of the most talented bands I have ever heard. Knjaz Varggoth has a seemingly unshakable knack for infusing his music with the all of the pride and hatred that his ideology implies. From 1996 up to the present they have remained on the cutting edge of the folk/pagan metal scene, like it or not.
Cheremosh is conveniently a track with no ideological strings attached. Appearing initially on the 1997 Marble Moon ep and then in slightly more refined form on To the Gates of Blasphemous Fire in 1998, Cheremosh is an instrumental song. The name refers to the Cheremosh river in western Ukraine. With a distinct build-up and climax characteristic of many of their finest songs, Cheremosh transitions from a secluded scene of the river rolling along to some convincing and bizarre pagan ritual. The folk is mostly keyboards–Nokturnal Mortum did not begin to employ traditional instrumentation extensively until the following year on NeChrist. (NeChrist, I recently discovered, is a pun. “Nechist” are evil spirits in Russian folklore.) Nokturnal Mortum did a pretty impressive job of inventing their own folk sound through synth though, and their first three albums gain a lot from it. If you can stomach their ideology, Nokturnal Mortum present some of the most compelling pagan metal on the market, and this isn’t the last time I’ll be featuring them this month.