Year of release: 2018
Released by: Cold Dungeon Records
Rating: 9 / 10
Such albums as "Nonregnum" are uncommon, and bands like KREIVISKAI are even less common. Bold musicians from Tver, albeit not too radical, still struggling with the total "slavification" of their region, not allowing to forget about its Krywian roots. Talking about their second album "in parts" is simply unrealistic, as it is one of the brightest examples of the close interconnection of all elements - music, design, lyrics and so on. "Zemmis: supnāi", the debut of KREIVISKAI, was released by Casus Belli Musica and got a good distribution, but this time the band decided to do everything by themselves. They opened the label Cold Dungeon Records, musicians tried their hand at the CD-R with the single "Dāinas - Dwāi Wangās", and then created such a release that even its basic version is better than a good half of the most fashionable products of modern major and underground dealers. And in this case, such diligent work on the physical edition is completely justified, since "Nonregnum" is a consistent excursion into the history of Tver, where it is important not only to listen but also to read. This basic version of an album is highest quality A5 digibook with 20-page booklet. The booklet offers lyrics in two languages, explanatory digressions, as well as a good share of delightful artwork, in which any krywian man will see many familiar elements. I was slightly amused by the inclusion of Mads Mikkelsen in the booklet (I suppose, it's his image from the movie "Michael Kohlaas") - was it really impossible to choose some less recognizable character? But I'll write this down on particularly warm feelings for Mikkelsen from musicians. The exclusive version of the album is a weighty box that, in addition to the digibook with "Nonregnum", includes a cassette with a remastered version of the debut album, the second issue of the almanac "Vele" (dedicated to the study of Tver identity, therefore very useful for a deeper understanding of the album), handmade engraving (unique for each of the 50 copies of the box), replica of the medieval Tver coin (minted for the first time since 1485!), four postcards and a patch. Each thing is made at the highest level, causing an additional desire to listen to the shit out of this album, completely immerse in it's world. You can see all this beauty on video: one, two, three. Willy-nilly, box-sets of the latest releases of Agonia Records come to mind, into which all the garbage, like a fucking bottle opener, was shoved. What's next - condoms and trash bags? Learn from KREIVISKAI! Moreover, the 40 euros that the group asks for boxed set is an absolutely reasonable price.
The musical component of the album, frankly speaking, is unconventional, an the musicians said that from the moment of the announcement. However, the very word "traditional" in relation to the music of Krywia is quite relative, because there are no reliable samples of this music in our time. You can only try to convey its spirit and make guessess, like PRAGNAVIT does (by the way, Voist recorded an exclusive track "Akavita" for the album). If "Zemmis: supnāi" somehow tried to work towards our Mogilev cult, then "Nonregnum" discards all authenticity, focusing on creating sound illustrations to what is told in the texts. In metaphors, "Zemmis: supnāi" is the wind over the wildlands of Krywia, and "Nonregnum" is the music of the formation of Tver statehood, something more concrete and tangible. However, it has no clearly expressed genre. Even the broad concept of "neofolk" is too restrictive for it. Traditional instruments and electric guitars with synthesizers, folk and ambient, neoclassic, post-punk, darkwave, even metal mix here in a single canvas and, most importantly, it works. No, wait, metal works not really well. Fortunately, metal is concentrated in the last track "Ode to the Great", which is semi-bonus so it does not break the current of the album. And yet it's almost useless. Moreover, a known scammer and shitbag and "Demeter Grail" is a guest vocalist on this track. Good people should not even breath the same air with such characters, so KREIVISKAI's choice is surprising. Perhaps, they just didn't knew. Anyway, it's not so important, because no one is forcing you or me to listen to the last track. Personally, my favorites are "The Lost Freedom" (beautiful female vocals) and "Exhaustion" (very strong post-punk spirit that I like), but "Nonregnum" is not an album from which you can tear out several tracks, upload them in the mp3 player and feel satisfied. It's an album with powerful concept requiring respectful attitude, which will pay off handsomely.