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Tjolgtjar – Five Tjolgtjarian Keys (album review)

No promotion can beat a self-promotion, and although – of course – I am in no way responsible for any Tjolgtjar output, some of you might know that the mighty J. R. Preston, the person behind Tjolgtjar and a few other musical output, is one of our editors and responsible for some of the finest reviews in the Rubber Axe webzine.

It would be wrong to think, though, that I am reviewing this album just because J. R. is my friend and a colleague, as I would review it even if the situation would be opposite. But I don’t think I should explain that to our readers, as I assume you are intelligent bunch (otherwise, why would you read Rubber Axe, right?)

Enough of chit-chat, let’s see what we have here.

Located in a middle of its long discography, “Five Tjolgtjarian Keys” from 2006 is basically a compilation containing “The Five Tjolgtjarian Keys & the gate to Vruguun” demo from 2003 and earlier (2002) demo “Nuun Raaguun Skuulkuun”, along with the bonus track “Devil, Take Me” and the CD was released through now defunct Suffering Jesus Productions.

Musically we are firmly established in the dark, murky waters of USBM, but if you are familiar with Tjolgtjar musick, you know its black metal comes with a twist – in a form of very hard’n’heavy guitar foundation, which is especially evident during the solos.

The album opens with “The First Key – Belphegor”, a catchy tune with primitive drums and hysterical vocals, but amazing guitar and bass guitar work. The riff played is fucking basic, yet absolutely enchanting the listener from the first note played. And is that a wah-wah pedal effect? Fuuuuckin’ hell!

And the second track, “The Second Key – Mysterion”, continuing with the programmed drums and hypnotic guitarwork, the echoed vocals is a little different from screaming one in the first song, but what remains, is the beautiful soloing, especially with the distorted sound. What a blast! J. R. indeed knows how to play and he shows it basically in every track. And as a listener, I do really appreciate that.

“The Third Key – Thirinium” continues our exploration with another hypnotic riff and the melody which almost begs to be sampled. So far, Tjolgtjar’s music proves, that even the most primitive output can be interesting, although it certainly doesn’t hurt when one’s actually know how to play instruments (a majority of so-called raw BM “musicians” should take notice here). Pplus the vocal changes added to the mix are a plus too. But I wouldn’t be honest if not stating that the song starts to drag a little in about a half in, but the rock-based choral and the soloing save the day and makes the song bereable. While it doesn’t carry the weight of the first two tracks, I will not dismiss it as a bad one. Neither I would skip it while playing the CD again.

Guess what song is the 4th one? Right, it’s “The Fourth Key – Immortality” and from the very beginning we have some changes here. The opening vocals are fantastic, and even the sound of the drums, sounding like J. R. plays on the cardboard crates, doubles the atmosphere. And with the change of vocals, we also can enjoy a recognizable bassline (and you know I love great bass sound!). Suddenly the track stops and changes completely, continuing with sound samples (from some movie I don’t recognize) and ritualistic drums and slow guitar tune. Unexpected, but sounds good to me!

After the 4th comes the 5th, and it’s true here also, as confirmed by “The Fifth Key – Earth”. This one is chaotic BM at its best, but the great guitar virtuosity remains in the form of another melody and catchy riffs. I am also almost always shocked (in a good way) when J. R. starts to sing in a clean voice, because you just don’t expect it. This is very hard-rockish, and one might argue it doesn’t belong in the extreme underground music output, but I disagree. It’s fucking great!

Well, there is not Sixth Key, but the original demo ends with “The Gate to Vruguun” and it continues in the way of the previous tracks. I can’t shed the feeling of familiarity during the whole demo, but it’s the feeling of the familiar music, not the songs…the technics and development of the songs are firmly established in the old school rock, as I have already said, and this gives these songs their unique flavour.

“Nuun Raaguun Skuulkuun” demo introduces the listener – if he/she hasn’t known Tjolgtjar before – to the Tjolgtjarian language, as the whole demo is sung in this out-of-this-world language. What is of this world, is a fucking rock’n’roll, baby!!!

Indeed, although the insane vocals are clearly in the black metal vein, the music is unmistakenly rock as hell and I don’t know if there would be anyone disliking it (ok, I don’t count my mother, but that’s different). Simplicity is the key here as well (and bear in mind, this demo actually precedes the first 6 songs we already have read about above) and the hypnotic buzzing of the guitar and bass in the first song of the demo – and the 7th song of this CD – titled “Nuun Raaguun Skuulkuun” evokes the evil-soaked atmosphere of the horrors unseen, and for a moment it reminds me of early Cathedral. The melody in the end is just beautiful and with the simple rhythm of the drums just fucking catchy. One of the highlights of this CD, that’s for sure.

Next song comes in the form of “Eaatruum Tjuk” and this one is really weird one. With the absolutely simplistic riff even I could probably play in the beginning, it nevertheless develops in a nice, albeit short, track with a distant nod to Bathory’s Viking choral work . I’m impressed and I’m gonna play it again, Sam!

9 is the number of the song “Blaasphuumaath” and we’re back in the fast chaotic USBM. The vocals! The vocals! This is really insane stuff, folks! But I assure you J. R. is definitely not insane. The song itself is short and serves more as an intermezzo than a regular song for me.

“Tjolgtjarium Muun”, although starting in a faster mid-tempo (damn, I am developing weird categories lol), soon it turns into fast, speedy tune with interesting vocal and, later on, a familiar guitar solo. I like the effect J. R. is using, sounds great! I have no clue what was said during the last part of the song, but who cares…

One before the last track is “Waaiee Duusdaariie” and that’s again – a total proto-rock anthem! Or, more fittingly, a witchcrafting ritual, with hypnotic melodies and vocals appearing again.

And the last one is probably the best one. Nah, let me rephrase it – it’s the best tune here! And again, forget USBM label, “Devil, Take Me” is devil rock, pure and simple! And while I am no worshipper of Old Nick, I have to admit it’s really catchy tune, reminding me – musically, by the riffing – of faster stuff from the birth of rock music. Vocally, one can’t fault J. R. with interesting take on vocals and as a whole, the song sounds fantastic. A great end of the great CD indeed.

So….you’re not on Discogs yet? Shame on you. You should get that CD, if you can. Or while you can.

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Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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