"The Novice's Guidance"
Haiduk originates from Canada and is a one man project by Luka Milojica and this album is his debut album after releasing a demo in 2010. And Haiduk is definitely something you need to be acquainted with as it stands out from what usually pops up here and there when it comes to new bands and releases.
Spellbook is really a unique album in my opinion, not because it in some way is a concept album but because of the material. It features ten songs, and each song is about a spell (hence the title of the album). These spells are portrayed on the album cover and I actually find it really interesting, compared to your standard metal release I think it is a breath of fresh air. You won't find any choruses on this album, each spell is described in some way with just a couple of lines and performed with the pretty fitting deep, angry death metal vocals of Luka Milojica. Haiduk is usually described as "Melodic Death/Black Metal". Sorry to bring the genre frenzy into the review, but that doesn't quite fit, at least not to me. Specially the black metal part and also the melodic to a certain degree. I would say there is some technical and thrashy elements here and there and for the black metal thing, it could be defended with there is a bit of atmosphere on some of the tracks. In short; You can't put Haiduk into a genre box. Basically I just wanted to clear that out, I normally don't really do that, but there you have it!
The production on the album is good, I like the sound of the guitar and the bass, specially since the bass is audible. And the guitar got a really heavy sound to it that kind of leans on a death metal sound but on a track like Stormcall it sounds a bit thrashy, mainly because of the riffing. While at the riffing it is worth mentioning that Luka is a pretty skilled guitarist and there is some really good, technical heavy riffs on this record. But since this is a one man band, with no session drummer there has of course been used programmed drums, and that is what ultimately drags this album down. This does not mean that I am an "anti programmed drums" guy, because the kicks and snare sounds pretty good. But the hi-hat and cymbals does not sound good at all, the hi-hat in particular when the tempo is on the double. Just try a track like Black Wind which got some really strange breaks on the drums as well, but it goes pretty fast and the hi-hat follows up and it just sounds so mechanical and it ruins the song completely for me. Another song that's a good example for that is Tremor. I would love to hear this album with a human drummer, it would pull the rating up a lot, because Haiduk definitely got potential!
This album is pretty unique sounding to me, so having recommending this album becomes a little tricky for me. If you're a fan of death, thrash or even black metal I would actually suggest you check out Haiduk. My two favourite tracks are Lich and Stormcall but tracks like Fire Wield and Lightning can definitely be spun as well! And even though the album contains 10 tracks it only lasts for 32 minutes, so it won't take you long to check out the entire album instead of just a couple of tracks. But one thing's for sure, Haiduk is something to keep an eye on in the future, especially if a drummer finds his way onto the next recording!
Be sure to check out Haiduk on Facebook.