Protokult Marzena

Protokult are a pagan metal act based in Toronto, ON, and five-song EP Marzena is their latest offering. They combine guttural black metal vocals with clean singing, both from vocalist/guitarist Martin D. and Ekaterina, whose soaring soprano often sails above the instrumentation, lending the album an unearthly quality. She also contributes the majority of the traditional folk instrumentation. The members of Protokult come from Polish, Czech, Russian and Irish backgrounds, and so combine their backgrounds to create a cultural mosaic of sonic influences. Thematically, they focus on the pagan, spiritual aspects of folk metal and have earned comparisons to Windir. They also share similarities with Arkona, when it comes to their song construction and the emphasis on traditional melodies. The rousing energy and twinkling brightness of the title track are high points of Marzena, evoking the sense of dancing around a campfire. However, the pacing is imperfect and the songs can run a bit long, becoming bogged down by their weight. This is especially true for slowest, gloomiest number "Green Light (Lament)." However, at their nimblest and lithest, their songs pulse and writhe like a sinuous living thing. (Independent)