Kaliningrad resident, Nikita Dubik, is conscious of his city’s Prussian heritage. Though now part of the Russian Federation, it was a crucial part of the Germanic world for nearly seven hundred years, especially in the era of the Teutonic Knights, Frederick the Great (1712-1786), and the German Empire founded in 1871. Of course, it’s most famous for being the birthplace of enlightenment philosopher, Immanuel Kant, when people knew the city as Königsberg. Nowadays, Kaliningrad hosts the Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy and is an advanced industrial city, but few remember that it was once a Polish fiefdom for neatly two hundred years (1466-1657). The debut Dubnik EP aims to bring “Prussia in myths and history” back to life using the medium of black metal. It’s only fourteen minutes in length, but it leaves a lasting impact.
Though the lyrical content is hard to translate, there’s no doubt that the three compositions on this EP are the product of painstaking attention to detail. Opener, ‘Sacrifice I’, operates with hissing guitar chords layered upon dissonant arpeggio shapes to give the music an omniscient sense of anxiety. Blast beats erupt like short bursts of artillery fire, yet the structure and aesthetic draw from progressive metal. Listen how Nikita’s frothing vocals effuse with the heavy distortion of the guitar amps and the rumble of the snare reverberation. You can feel the cathartic rage calming you down through sheer force of release. Yet you can breathe. Your body can change posture throughout this opening track until you find one that suits you.
‘Sacrifice II’ is the clear standout. This is not the lo-fi black metal nonsense that became irrelevant after 1999. Chugging guitars compete with haunting chords in a surprise drum groove that gives way to more violent tempos when the song demands them. Play this through your headphones and you’ll hear a technical death metal pattern emerge in the second guitar channel underneath the tremolo rhythms. Nikita’s vocals are harsh enough to crack a lens in your glasses. Only one thing becomes predictable, and that’s the use of blast beats when Nikita needs to roar his way into a faster tempo change. He does the same thing on ‘Sacrifice III’ when you most expect it, yet the sorrowful guitar melodies buried within the avalanche of noise save it from mediocrity. Here, claustrophobia is the sensation that ruptures your equilibrium. Stream a pop record if you want something to whistle to as you walk down the street in the coldness of spring.
The debut Dubnik EP is what you need when you must stay indoors to avoid the burden of social interaction with other human beings. It’s probably something you do often if you listen to this type of music.
Release Date: 16/12/2022
Record Label: Self Released
Standout track: Sacrifice II
Suggested Further Listening: Bes (БѢСЪ) – Blasphemies (2020), Godhead Machinery – Masquerade Among Gods EP (2021), Kataan – Kataan EP (2021)