Tharaphita "Raev / Kui varjud põlevad"   [Loe arvustusi]

Midagi ei ole unustatud, miski ei unune! Mustast minevikust ilmutab end taas Eesti pagan/black-metali lipulaeva Tharaphita esikalbum "Raev", mis algselt nägi ilmavalgust juba 11 pikka aastat tagasi, kujunedes kodumaise äärmus-metal-muusika jaoks äärmiselt oluliseks verstapostiks, mille viljastav mõju kestab tänaseni. "Raevu" sahisevad kassettalbumid võib nüüd rahumeeli arhiivi väärikale kohale paigutada ning kulunud CD-R-id prügikasti visata — Nailboard Records annab 2. novembril välja luksusliku digipak-CD, millele on täiendava maiuspalana lisatud 1996. aastal ilmunud legendaarne neljalooline demosalvestis "Kui varjud põlevad"!

Tharaphita "Raev & Kui varjud põlevad"
Sari "Gems From Estonian Metal Vault"

"Raev" (1998)
1. Raev
2. Sündinud tules
3. Merekurat
4. Allpool lund ja jääd
5. Tagasi pimedasse metsa
6. Tumedam kui taevas täis on ronki

"Kui varjud põlevad" (1996)
7. Allpool lund ja jääd
8. Merekurat
9. Tagasi pimedasse metsa
10. Demon´s Night

Välja antud: 02.11.2009
Formaadid: Digipak CD
Kataloog# Board 024


Forgotten Path

Goodness... Such releases give shudders through my back. A cult band from Estonia with the help of local “Nailboard Records” offers us the first demo and first album on one plate. For me Tharaphita was one of the first bands that I found Metal through, so you can imagine, what feelings are burning in my heart while listening to this album...

For those of you, who still aren’t familiar with this band, Tharaphita was a member of those middle 90s times, when the Baltic Pagan Black Metal scene was at its highest form together with such bands like Poccolus, Skyforger, Zpoan Vtenz, and others. Tapes were still the primary format at that time, so to have both - “Raev” and “Kui Varjud Põlevad” - on one CD, is quite a special occasion. But let’s leave those sweet words, and get into the music.
The creation of Tharaphita can be hardly confused with any other band. I can easily separate their mournful guitar sound. Ank’s vocals are also well-known to my ears. The band also sings in its native language, so this is one more reason to not mistake them with anyone. And the songs... They are pretty. Based mostly on not so fast, more melancholic rhythms, the tracks usually offer deep spirit and atmosphere. I can’t tell you that the playing is technical, but I must assure that the emotion is very unique here. Sadness, epic and pain, courageous and dramatic - you will find everything here. The band uses a lot of solos for this style, but they are very moderate and mature. You can also hear the key parts that are very important for the music’s final mood.

If you take nowadays situation, sound and quality of the band - it has changed, quite a lot, but continues the same Pagan direction. For that reason I’d like to interview the band, maybe even in this issue, or the next one, definitely. Anyway, the quality I mentioned... I’m not sure, if the sound has been mastered for this re-release, but for me it is even too clean. I prefer more polished, underground spirit (maybe it is because of the tape format that they were released first?). But in general this is a must for those who still feel nostalgia for those passed times... Superb Pagan Black Metal attack from the legendary Estonian horde!

9,5 Odium


Maansa metalliliekkiä jo puolisentoista vuosikymmentä vaalinut Tharaphita on saanut uusintajulkaisun kahdesta ensimmäisestä julkaisustaan, mutta yksien digipak-kansien sisälle. Gems from Estonian Metal Vault -lisänimellä julkaistu paketti on osa Nailboardin sarjaa, jossa tongitaan arkistojen kätköjä ja ullakkojen pölyisiä nurkkia, juurikin männävuosien virolaishelmien uudestaan esille tuomiseksi. Tätä tarkoitusta silmällä pitäen Raev / Kui varjud põlevad -kaksoispaketti onkin ihan omiaan.

Raev-debyyttialbumin vuodelta 1998 ja paria vuotta varhaisemman Kui varjud põlevad -demonauhoitteen samoihin sisuksiin kätkevä kooste raottaa kuulijalle bändin varhaishistoriaa. Ilmaisu on selvästi myöhäisempää vaihetta mustempi, mutta paikoin myös deathmetalmaisempi. Soitossa kuuluu into ja toisaalta hyvin myös ajan henki; 90-luvun loppupuolen kosketinvetoinen pakanametallitunnelmointi.

Vaikka meno ei ole aina kovin kaksisesti vedettyä, on Tharaphitan soitossa ja tunnelmassa jotain kovin autenttista ja omaleimaista. Välillä yhtye piipahtaa folkmetalmaisen pillipiiparoinnin puolella (esimerkiksi pelin avaavassa Raev-nimikkoraidassa), kun taas toisaalla soudetaan ja huovataan enemmän bm- ja dm-henkisissä tunnelmissa. Mikä yllättävintä, eri osaset sopivat hyvin yhteen tostensa kanssa.

Vaikka tuotanto-olosuhteet eivät näille varhaisjulkaisuille erinomaisia ole olleetkaan, on paketin soundijälki varsin kelvollista työtä. Jos Raev edeltäjineen ei nyt mitään järisyttävän ihmeellistä kuuntelukokemusta tarjoakaan, on tämä "tuplapaketti" kuitenkin kokonaisuutena ihan mukava paketti ja työnäyte maansa vähemmän suurista nimistä.


Metal Storm

I must say I have mixed feelings about the centennial turnover era Estonian metal scene. On one hand it was an exciting time because there was a strong sense of the scene going somewhere. Also, as a young extreme metal purist I was delighted to see the rise of my style of choice. Likewise I was excited about the influx of all the "stars" of the day - Mayhem, Behemoth and Vader were among the bands to visit this peripheral land.

On the other hand, it was also the time when local metal experienced something I would in retrospect refer to as... septic shock? At one point, perhaps around the mid-aughts, fresh ideas seemed to have ceased and even the better known local acts managed to put out some truly horrible musical abominations (Must Missa´s ill-fated "Ma ei talu valgust" definitely qualifies).

Tharaphita managed to keep their banner up through these rough times, but that was mainly because they were flying it half-mast. That is to say, Tharaphita kept up their appearances with a stubborn refusal to change in any single way. Thus their mid-tempo black metal always retained the "good enough" seal of acceptance. The two demos on the compilation at hand showcase the band´s early days material and I must say that along with their 2007 "Iidsetel sünkjatel radadel" album, this compilation is my favourite of the group.

This said I´d like to issue a word of warning - while the compilation might be of significant value to Estonian metalheads, others may find it a bit of a struggle. The songs on this album are still a perfect example of the typical Tharaphita sound. To me Tharaphita´s songs were always akin to battle hymns - inspiring, maybe, but ultimately there to just keep up the pace as you toddled from one battlefield to another. Sure, they do have some interesting elements here and there, but in the end it sticks to the same hymn-type formula with the ferocious tenacity of a Gregorian chant.

So, unlike the marvellous Forgotten Sunrise compilation of the same series, this "gem from the Estonian metal vault" is strictly for domestic use only. Or you know, for all those who still adhere to the metal faux pas of wearing corpse paint to gigs.

written by destroyah

Metal Rules

Digging an old graveyard is always lots of fun and exciting to do. You just never know in advance what you are about to found. Sometimes you found nothing than ordinary bones and skulls, but every now and then you may found some real treasures that should be brought back to the daylight again.

This is what the leading Estonian metal label, Nailboard Records, has seemed to be doing lately. First they released Estonian death metal legends, Forgotten Sunrise´s early releases on one CD - and they got their hands on the Estonian pagan/black metal forerunners Tharaphita´s early stuff (their 4-track demo from 1996 and self-released debut album from 1998), giving those 2 releases a treatment that they both undoubtedly deserve - and at the same time, just adding a little bit more fuel to their concept about their own "Gems from the Estonian metal vault" thing.

Tharaphita´s 4-track demo from 1996, titled KUI VARJUD PÕLEVAD, is a good presentation about the band´s early pagan/black metal roots, accompanying occasional keyboard parts and Viking type of choirs here and there that were somewhat clumsily used within their songs back in the day, and were still kind of looking for their own fitting place in the band´s song structures. Overall the demo sounds unpolished and raw (especially the guitar´s tone is raw in the recording), but what more one can expect from a demo that was recorded 14 years ago already?

RAEV (meaning ´rage´ in English), Tharaphita´s 6-song debut album, was a more advanced and polished sounding effort, more or less building up the band´s songs steadily and firmly into a bigger and richer sound, and directing it towards more epic and pompous soundscapes what they were about become known for later years to come. The diversity of the songs that they have succeeded in creating compared to the songs of their 1996 demo was already very significant, and may I even say, quite drastically noticeable indeed with a pile of some very good melody lines loaded into the songs and stuff.

RAEV gained some reputation among a small group of devoted underground pagan/black metal fans only, but never really brought any mass acceptance to them. Those years are yet to come, I guess.

This collection of Tharaphita´s past gems is very well made nonetheless, giving a good insight into the band´s past times how they sounded like back then, plus it´s also a well put together continuum to Nailboard Records for their treasure hunt in an ancient Estonian graveyard to get some of these Estonian metal gems re-released again.


Eesti Ekspress

Nailboardi poolt taasavaldatud Tharaphita 1996. ja 1998. aasta üllitised mõjuvad nagu unustatud ürik kaugest ja süütumast ajast, mis õnneks ja kahjuks enam kunagi ei kordu. 90ndate teise poole Eesti pagan black metal’i skenet kogu tema kurikuulsa kitsarinnalisuse ja sallimatusega võib tõesti tagurlikuks nähtuseks pidada, kuid enesekindel kompromissitus ja puhas elujõud, mida need helid endast õhkavad, on muusikalise tipptaseme säilitanud tänapäevani – vähemalt, mis puutub hingekeeltel mängimisse. Kõigile oma segasevõitu üleskutsetele ja ülevoolavale nartsissismile vaatamata tegi algusaegade Tharaphita lihtsalt väga head ja veenvat muusikat. Superhitt “Merikurat” (sellel plaadil võib seda kuulda lausa kahes variandis) on auga ära teeninud koha ükskõik millisel 90ndate Eesti parima alternatiivmuusika kogumikul.

Kahjuks pole Tharaphita hilisematel plaatidel enam pooltki sellest teravusest, mis 90ndate teise poole ajavaimuga kord nii hästi kokku kõlas. Kuid mis oli, see jääb kestma kohati kehvavõitu salvestuskvaliteedile vaatamata, ja loodetavasti avastatakse üha uuesti uute kuulajate poolt.

Mart Kuldkepp

Encyclopaedia Metallum

Early Baltic pagan metal.

This demo was one of the first things that came into my hands when I was discovering the Baltic metal scene. I used to hold it in high regard, so I´d figured to eventually revisit it at some point. An overview I read way back when described them as the Baltic BURZUM standing next to SKYFORGER positioned as the Baltic IMMORTAL (based on the "Semigalls´ Warchant" demo, no doubt). These parallels didn´t get very far (and that goes especially for THARAPHITA), even if the reviewer was not necessarily speaking of direct musical lineage but about some kind of general aura. Regardless, THARAPHITA became a decent band and continued to lead a relatively active existence. Looking back at their first demo, I may not be as excited about it now yet can assure you that this tape still firmly holds its salt.

I downloaded it recently from a metal blog because my tape player is broken, and it sounded worse than I remember the tape to be. A bad transfer maybe or worn out original source? No matter, I am probably wrong anyway. It has been too long, but I think I can recall impressively crisp (for a demo) yet raw production, thick and sharp guitar sound and vocalist Ank´s grating, blackened screaming. Oh yea, it´s not really black metal either, it´s Pagan metal. Pagan metal is Pagan metal. As loose and vague as this term of convenience can be, I suppose black metal is still its closest relative. Or, Pagan metal is a hazy no mans land of a territory between black metal and things that closely surround it such as questionable categories of Dark and Viking metal, which can be nominally connected to black metal but may employ traditional techniques like more straightforward rock drumming or more conventional riff sequences, not to mention overall atmosphere, which would be less grim and "evil" and more "neutral" or heroic. THARAPHITA in one way or another falls under this definition but in a good way. Sturdy, chiseled and repetitious guitar lines unhurriedly carve their way forward, propelled by basic but precise drumming and above noted vocal work along with occasional clean Viking-like chants. Melodies are rather scarce and mostly used to emphasize certain parts rather then serve as the songs´ main engine. Keyboards are employed as well but used in exactly the same manner, just to sparingly add some extra color here and there. As such the material on first and third tracks "Allpool Lund Ja Jaad" and "Tagasi Pimedasse Metsa" forms the backbone of the recording, while "Merekurat" serves as the demo´s centerpiece and main attraction. Its two distinctive and memorable (but not melodic) riff combinations continuously take their turns, with the second set being embellished by a simplistically catchy and airy sounding keyboard part. Both of them eventually give way to a surprisingly catchy chorus led by a Viking chant. Pretty damn cool song, even if it uses a rather conventional structure. But that´s not all. As a final kick in the head, the band totally unexpectedly throw out a raging thrasher in the form of "Demons´ Night". Very cool again, despite the track´s more friable sound and less controlled musicianship.

An interesting thing to mention is the translated Estonian pronouncement somewhere on the tape´s inlay: ["We, as one in heart and spirit against the name of Christ!" - The warcry of primeval Estonians], which could also be found on a few other Estonian demos of the mid to late 90´s, MANATARK´s "Roosteitk" for instance. Does it demonstrate the erstwhile unity and dedication of the musicians back then? Probably, but they were younger too.

I acquired THARAPHITA´s second release and first official full-length "Raev" some time after this demo and remember being somewhat disheartened at what my then-uncompromising self thought was watering down of the band´s sound. Listening to "Raev" today, I have no choice but admit that the band were just looking to refine their sound, of course! The demo obviously sounds rough around the edges in comparison, so maybe it wasn´t as crisp as I thought it was. "Kui Varjud Polevad" songs were re-recorded (minus "Demons´ Night") and incorporated into the album along with newer material. New songs were more melodic (albeit, again, in a conventional way, I have to say), lushness and usage of keyboards increased slightly (keyboard melody on "Merekurat started to sound almost poppy), and the band´s sound became lighter (i.e. cleaned up) and less stern, even if vocals remained equally harsh. All in all, a typical path to take, but I do encourage you to listen to both recordings. Depending where you stand, you will probably appreciate one over the other so much more.


Written by Uctykah

Ledo Takas

Tadas Kazlauskas
Ledo Takas issue 8

Get this excellent tape with six pagan heavy metal songs!! It is absolutely brilliant, and definitely blows away a few bunches of crappy Century Media or Napalm albums, which usually are weak reflections of the pagan trend. This one is real, drawing influences from traditional metal (ha, "Allpool lund ja jääd" starts like a Megadeth track back in 1990) and ancient musical heritage, which almost excluded the use of traditional instruments (they play a very minor role indeed, and only in title track)!

Estonian masters manage to create a majestic historical perspective with usual metal tones, great vocal choruses, and sublime keyboard background, which is neither irritating nor overused. I am excited indeed.

Something assumingly cool was performed by Tharaphita on the debut demo too, but guys have definitely stepped towards purely developed music with time, which is about identity and might now. It slowly but firmly puts a spell with hypnotising rhythms (but it is not a weak stoner avantgarde, nor gothic/atmospheric excuses – no way!) and voice of Ank, periodically turning insane. That is the only feature they can be mentioned close to blackmetal, though the guitar sound has something of that type too. Anyway, it is not about labelling, but more important thing, for example – great production, or spiritual satisfaction that "Raev" (means ”rage”) brings. What about production, I truly advice to any band to try Tallinn Townhall Studio – there is nothing to regret about the result! I just wonder that this album was not released since 1998 when it was recorded, and that these songs are written even few more years back... Anyway, it must be out on CD and LP, it cannot be missed without broader acknowledgement!