N.K.V.D. – Hakmarrja


A mechanical, maniacal, and brooding beast…

Review by Jason Guest

Avantgarde Music

Release date: 11 November 2014

Paris, France’s industrial black metallers N.K.V.D. take their name and inspiration for their material from very interesting and controversial sources. Named after the Stalin-era secret police organisation of the Soviet Union, the band’s music is as cold, harsh and haunting as their namesake. Three years after his first full length, Vlast, mainman L.F. has returned with Hakmarrja, a mechanical, maniacal, and brooding beast.

From the echoed haunt of ‘Exordium’, its sounds emanating from the tortured memories of wartime prison camps, through to the death knells and spiritual void of ‘Excipit’, this is a heavily concentrated piece of work. The solitary guitar drone that opens the title track is a signal, a dark alarm, a warning of what is to follow. Dragging a mass of mutilated corpses, the track heaves, the stench of its black breath filling the air for ‘Wolfschanze’s nefarious meditations. Chronologically, with Hakmarrja, the point where one track leaves us is where the next picks up, the filth, the corruption, the carrion left in its wake becomes the fuel of the next track, the rising plumes of leaden smoke choking the breathless skies. While all the tracks bear a horror of their own, ‘Battallion Vostok’ is particularly disturbing, its rhythmic relentlessness as of the armies of darkness marching their way across the landscape, ruthlessly destroying those that dare impede their progress.

Thus, the industrial aspect of the band is utilised to its full effect. The drums are machine-like, each hit heavy and each beat battering. The riffs are the stuff of death and black metal, designed to disorientate and devastate and layered for intensity. The vocals are commanding and demonic. And with an array of unsettling samples and sound effects ground into the blackened blend, the album’s weight is colossal, its attack unremitting, and its experience purposely and perpetually confounding. Initially impenetrable, what lies beyond the walls of cold brutality comes closer to light after repeat listens. Militaristic in might, that the title is Albanian for ‘revenge’ is most apt. Best served cold, they say. They’d be right.

N.K.V.D.-Hakmarrja7.5 out of 10

Read MR’s interview with L.F. here

Track Listing:

  1. Exordium
  2. Hakmarrja
  3. Wolfschanze
  4. Za Krajla
  5. The Invisible Empire
  6. Travil Familie Patrie
  7. Battalion Vostok
  8. C.K.
  9. Red Silence
  10. Excipit