Haiduk: Spellbook (2012)

I received SPELLBOOK from Haiduk a while back for review, and while I am open to any genre, this one really just went over my head. I know very, very little about death metal or melodic death or really anything that might have to do with corpsepaint that’s not METALOCALYPSE. So in order to not write a review about something I just don’t know anything about, I contacted Aaron Mendiola (aka The Beer Metal Dude), who has not only a ton of experience listening to this style of music, but has been in more than a few bands that might have a growled lyric or two. Aaron was kind enough to lend his expertise to this review; so today’s Ryan’s Review is written by Aaron.

Bio (from haiduk.ca/Biography.aspx):
haiduk is a death metal solo-project by guitarist luka milojica. emerging from the cold forests of canada, the project came to life with the release of the raw, bone-chilling 8-song demo “plagueswept” in 2010. aggressive and dark, the sound of haiduk is a direct channeling of haunting musical ideas from composer to listener, as the conceptualization, writing, and execution of the music is a solitary process. free from outside influence, the songs lure the listener towards themes of magic, evil, nature and myth. forging ahead in solitude, haiduk unleashed the full-length debut “spellbook” in july 2012; a black-magic conjuring of fast guitars and powerful riff attacks summoning an atmosphere of true darkness.

Luka Milojica

Haiduk: a word most commonly used to refer to outlaws, highwaymen or freedom fighters in the Balkans and Central and Eastern Europe. I’m sure their name means something to the sole member of this band, Luka Milojica who performs all instruments, and vocals for this one-man project. Haiduk, or Mr. Milojica, is from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but he definitely has a lot of Middle Eastern influences. One of the main bands that come to mind as this CD plays on is Melechesh, who is a band known for their style of Black/Death Metal with a lot of melodic, and very Middle Eastern folk music sounding riffs. Haiduk has the same feel to it, as SPELLBOOK has a lot – and I mean a lot – of very catchy riffs throughout. There are parts that have me thinking I am listening to Melechesh, but then I am quickly reminded that I am listening to an unsigned, independent artist who still needs a bit of work to make this project a great one.

Haiduk is on FIAH!!!
Haiduk is on FIAH!!!

Judging from the sound, I am going to say that SPELLBOOK uses a drum machine to compliment the guitar work, which it does nicely, although the programming is very amateurish. There is not a lot of complexity with the drums, and it does make the overall experience of listening to this album very one-dimensional. Thrash beat here, thrash beat there, grind here, grind there, and that’s pretty much it.

Probably one of the only Death Metal logos I have ever been able to easily read.
Probably one of the only Death Metal logos I have ever been able to easily read.

The longest song is just 4:17 in length, making SPELLBOOK a very quick listen all the way through. But it did leave me saying, “What just happened?” when I was done listening to the whole thing. As I said, there are a lot of catchy riffs, but nothing really memorable as I am left puzzled to the fact that I just heard a 10 song CD, but not one song stood out above the rest. In fact, SPELLBOOK could be one long song separated in sections only by lyrics/vocals. Speaking of which, vocals aren’t Milojica ’s strong point either. There is definitely a lot more focus on the guitar work than anything else. Vocals are few and far between on this album.

Corpsepaint looks so much better in black & white.
Corpsepaint looks so much better in black & white.

I give Milojica credit, and do praise his ability to create some killer riffs, but there is a lack of overall substance to this album. Fill it in with more vocals, and more vocal range other than just one style of overdubbed mid-range Death Metal growling. SPELLBOOK definitely needs stronger drum patterns and more fills to give each song that push for greatness. The major downside to this album is the lack of good song structure. It seems as if Milojica just pressed record and started jamming some riffs, then said, “OK stop it there. Next song.” Some songs have no intro or no real ending, it’s just all body. Like a craft beer could be, this is over carbonated with riffs, lacks a full body, missing some flavors, but the content that is there will get the job done, leaving you buzzed, and hoping that next batch (album) comes out better!

Overall 6 / 10

SPELLBOOK for sale: http://www.haiduk.ca/Releases.aspx

SPELLBOOK site: http://www.haiduk.ca

Haiduk: Spellbook (2012)
Haiduk: Spellbook (2012)

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