Sacred Dominions / Hadak urA

Album Title: 
Sacred Dominions / Hadak urA
Release Date: 
Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Review Type: 

Location: East-Anglia, Albion, U.K. (Sacred Dominions) / Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S. (Hadak urA)

Members: Shadows (song-writing & lyrics, instruments & vocals, mix; Sacred Dominions) / Koppany Geczy (instruments & vocals, song-writing & mix; Hadak urA)

Mix: Shadows & Koppany Geczy

Mastering: K (master-mind behind the label)

Artwork: Hjarulv (assisted by Shadows)

Type: digipack-CD with six-page (three-folded) booklet (including the lyrics & black-and-white photography)

Duration: 31:49

Genre: Atmospheric Heathen Black Metal

Two one-man armies joining forces: the in the meantime defunct English outfit Sacred Dominions and American project Hadak urA (as part of many outfits by Joe Getse). Released on compact-disc by Polish finest Lower Silesian Stronghold, run by Krzysztof W. (of Dark Fury-fame, and many others).

The first four pieces (Heathen Resistance, Beneath The Sword, Time Of Revenge, and Spirit Of The Wolf) are courtesy of Sacred Dominions. These hymns bring forth quite traditional Black Metal with a harmonious basement, epic rhythms, and a heathen atmosphere. The play is of the ‘orthodox’ kind, timeless in execution. I mean, the whole is created around spherical yet uncompromising melodies, with fine guitar-work, a forceful rhythm section, and very grim main vocals.

But there is much more. The material is strongly impregnated by the use of symphonic keyboards. These synths characterize and influence the whole ‘package’, surrounding the whole within a nebula of both mesmeric and victorious elegance. Somehow, those keyboards strengthen the Pagan / Heathen oriented character.

Another important element is the sound-quality. The production is dry as a desert, lacking any form of surgically clean adornment (luckily). Yet still the equilibrium in between the vocals, the strings, the synths and the drums / percussions is acceptable. …not more than acceptable, for it lacks that certain sense wherein all instruments are clearly represented. However, basses, rhythms guitars and percussions are as equivalent existing as the vocals, lead guitars and keyboards. It’s just that rough-edged production that drenches the whole in that fine old-styled attitude. I do not mind, yet some might (message from undersigned to those who dislike that rough sound: [self-censorship]).

A last word about the tempo. Here too a well-thought variation does exist. Up-tempo parts interfere organically with smooth decelerations. There are no exaggerated blasts, nor sluggish doom-excerpts, yet everything from mid-tempo over energetic to fiery (the ‘hot-pepper-in-the-ass’ approach) passes by. And you know; this specific kind of melo-symphonic Black Metal does not need those extremes in speed at all. Conclusion: monumental stuff!

The second half of the split gets executed by Hadak urA, with three lengthier compositions: What We Held Sacred (with lyrics written by Sacred Dominion’s Shadows), Varna Shall Be Our Grave, and Like A Flickering In The Distance. The first piece starts with a dreamy intro, mingling the better elements of Dungeon Doom Synth, bleak Dark Ambient and dreamlike Martial Industrial into a breathtaking passage through the portal of tragedy. After two and a half minutes, things evolve into an hypnotic form of Doom Black Metal, carried too, cf. Sacred Dominions, by starry-eyed synths. These synths play a head-role, together with some almost emotive lead solos, as well as the deep, little gurgling, voices. The rhythm section is enormously supportive, fortifying the slow, pushing energy.

Once in a while, subtle yet of undeniable importance, are additional effects, such as that combative outro in Varna Shall Be Our Grave, or the hints of Post-Rock / Blackgaze / DSBM in the outro Like A Flickering In The Distance; this track being a short instrumental guitar-driven piece.

Here too the sound quality isn’t optimum in a sense of cleanliness, yet this is more preferable than a fake and exaggerated ‘neat’ production, of course. Besides, still all instruments have been decently put into the final mix, with those fine drums and percussions taking credit for the commanding concept. The rhythm  guitars come with a somewhat droning effect, down-tuned and deep, adding a touch of mystery.