Nestled in the heart of the great Silk Road, the music of Kyrgyzstan retains its own unique multi-faceted heritage, rooted in the Shamanic sounds of old, with inflections from the Turks, Rus’, Afghani, and even Western European influences which passed through by way of the high traffic trade route. The oft-nomadic musicians, the “manaschi,” would perform long-form songs, retelling the Manas epic. Though I, personally, would find an immediate cultural connotation of a band such as Darkestrah’s initial Kyrgyzstan location to be a lazy “catch all,” Darkestrah’s embodiment of the Kyrgyz folk tradition and culture is as unique and mesmerizing as it is inspiring.

Nomads themselves, having relocated from their native Kyrgyzstan to Germany, Darkestrah’s fusion of traditional kui music (though traditionally instrumental) with black metal has been an isolated evolutionary line. Utilizing the culturally stylistic “long form” compositional style, Darkestrah’s hypnotic, lengthy music – the shortest proper song on Turan is just shy of 7 minutes in length – finds a home between black metal’s ferocity and a more Eastern notion of droning hypnotism. Along with the traditional “band setup” of guitars, drums, bass, and harsh vocal delivery, Turan‘s epic scope shows the band expanding their sound palette. In equal measures, Darkestrah includes orchestral elements, the jarring metallic sound of the temir khomuz (along with a multitude of other folk instruments), and a distinctly mid-Asian harmonic structure, which fuses traditionally “Eastern” melodic sounds with Western chord sensibilities, resulting in a wholly unique, spine-tingling experience.

Returning to the concept of “kui” music, which is a narrative sort of instrumental folk ballad, performers use visual cues and large, dramatic gestures to visualize the epic’s plot arc. With the inherent drama of Darkestrah’s larger than life music, Turan is performed with those dramatic gestures in mind, the band performing wave after wave of memorable, hair-raising climaxes which build and flow. These are the stories of the ancients made new, and the spirit flows with an awesome power.

Celebrate the sound of Kyrgyzstan with Darkestrah’s Turan, slated for an April 29 release on Osmose Productions. Listen to an exclusive stream of the full album below.

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