Band Name: Zaklon
Album: Nikoli
Release Date: October 2014
Label: Embassy Row Music (US), Possession Productions (Europe)
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja

The one-man Black Metal project from Belarus, Zaklon, has produced a fourth studio album titled Nikoli (Never). Set for a limited, 1000 copy-release, the album comes with a 16-page booklet containing the release’s lyrics and artistic impressions of the Belarusian fall. The project, which was started by musician Temnarod in 1999, has released 3 other albums since 2010 as well as several demos in earlier years.

The first song, “Atruta” (Poisoned), begins with the sounds of Belarusian nature in the fall and spoken words in the Belarusian language before plunging into a riveting, beautiful Atmospheric Black Metal melody accompanied by Temnarod’s vicious vocals, which suit the song and album quite well. Well-paced guitars, drums, and bass encompass the song’s entire 14 minutes. The track ends on a lighter note.  A great opener to a dark and melancholic album for this fall season.
The next track, “Dolu” (Down), continues to shape further the harrowing atmosphere of the album with faster guitars than the first track and a generally more melodic tune. The vocals are also fitting for the gloomy nature of the song. Some might say it is a bit monotonous or repetitive, but they are missing out on the slow descent into the cold Belarusian forests that Zaklon evokes with their music.
Playing over the sounds of rain, the title track “Nikoli” (Never), is sure to draw you further into the ancient woods of Belarus with a doom-like style that is complemented with fast, melodic guitar riffs and powerful vocals. This heavy tune paints a bleak yet resplendent picture of the Belarusian groves in the fall.

If the previous tracks weren’t enough to throw your imagination into the stark scenery of the Eastern European woods, then the track Sliach (Road) will surely do that for you with its vigorous sounds and guitar play, which also continue with even more impressive tunes in the next track, Ahni (Lights). This musical piece is mesmerizing in a sense that it transports you into the heart of the fall under the grey skies of Belarus. It is also one of the most versatile tracks on the album with great progression and a variety of sounds that lean towards Doom Metal elements. Personally, this is my favorite track from this wonderful album.

It seems that Zaklon wanted to end the album with a quiet, soothing song, and they did that quite well with Dym (Smoke), which is the shortest track on the album and features acoustic guitar and violin sounds as well as a flute. There is no growling on this song, but rather Temnarod’s compelling and resilient speech in Belarusian accompanied by tranquil music that concludes one’s journey into the fall-consumed woods.

Overall, I believe Zaklon did a remarkable job with this release. Despite the tracks being rather lengthy, I did not feel one second of boredom because this album has several elements that eliminate the redundancy some black metal bands are stuck in. Moreover, a unique element of this release is that the lyrics are sung in the Belarusian language, which adds a local cultural element to the music and offers a differentiating factor to it. While the album contained plenty of Doom Metal elements, it still captured the essence of Black Metal in an efficient manner. The album artwork beautifully complements its music. A very impressive piece of Atmospheric Black Metal.


Listen to Nikoli through Possession Productions' Bandcamp player below:

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