Moldavia is too most, me including, a strange land. Caught between east and west, the orient and the occident. It’s not fully known to me what the identity of this place is. Reason enough to rejoice, for Harmasar is there to tell us more about it with their particular Moldavian folk metal. There is a connection with bands like An Theos and Bucovina.
‘Din Pământ’ is the debut of this group and it tells us of the great battles that took place in the region in the ancient past. Back then the region fought against foreign invaders, like the Romans and Ottomans. It’s that feeling the band puts in their music. It also sets them apart from other folk bands who use folk more as a gimmick. In the sound of Harmasar it seems to be more fundamental, even more so it’s the base for their sound. The group hails from the capital Chisinau, where an active scene is brewing.
The title track opens the record with an upbeat bit of balkan folk, with a tinge of melancholy and an oriëntal flavor (however mild) to it. That folk element gets the heavy weight and bravado of a more modern war chant thanks to the addition of the guitars and drums on ‘Daoi’. A thunderous bit of war metal, with burly, masculine vocals, that even further set the tone. There’s a lot of screaming guitars, but all in all the music is not trying to over complicate the metal part. If needed a folky flute will give that special feel to a song ina solo
Particularly nice is that the band doesnt eschew any of the stereotypes of the region. They use what is there, which is also the sorrowful song on ‘Tapae’. It leavces you picturing a group of men sitting around a campfire, there wagons in a circle. The men are singing of their trouble. The tendency for the dramatic is definitely something you’ll find in Balkan music. Using it is only logical. The same goes for the energetic rhythms. The lamenting vocal delivery is in concord with that same whistle, which blows gently. Granted, the production is’nt sublime, but it’s good enough to properly convey the sound of the band and their gruff essence.
‘Din Pământ’ is a bold statement that puts Moldova on the folk metal map. Where folk metal has grown stale with an endless flood of German and Nordic bands, this is something new and more folk-based. Let’s hope translated lyrics will open up the rich history in the songs to the wider public of the genre.