Marțolea is a one man Romanian folk/black metal project by Alin Drimuş. Up until starting Marțolea in 2008, Drimuş was mostly known for his pan/wooden flute contributions on Negură Bunget‘s Om in 2006 as well as in some of their live performances. He self-released his first demo Gâlmele Întunericului in 2009 and followed with his first full length effort in 2010, which is Noaptea Dihăniilor. Both records are available for free download on Marțolea’s website, so make sure to grab your digital copies and check out the mastermind behind the music.
Marțolea, the Mythical Demon
Before I discuss the album, it might be interesting to point out some facts about the lyrics and themes of the album. First of all, according to the band’s website, the name “Marțolea is a Demonic entity in Romanian mythology who lives up in the mountains and descends on Tuesday nights to lure with his singing and punish the women caught working.”
The general lyrical themes all revolve around the dark side of Romanian mythology and the old Romanian tales. These themes cried for the use of the traditional folk instruments of the areas from which these mythologies emanated from. This turned out to be the key to the band’s sound and atmosphere.
The music itself is a very measured mix of folk and black metal. And the most unique and highly enjoyable aspect of the music is the use of choirs/voices instead of keys, which turned out to be very rewarding. The singing is a mix of harsh vocals and low chants.
Part of the album are three surprise instrumentals filled with the artist’s expression and emotion: Noaptea, Răsăritul Lunii, and Zorii. Voices fill these songs through the various wind instruments and create a one-of-a-kind atmosphere.
Since I mentioned instrumentals, Drimuş plays all instruments on the record and there are quite a bit of them:
– Guitars, bass, drums and vocals are the traditional metal appearances.
– Romanian and other traditional instruments: Buciumul (trâmbția), Cavalul (kaval), Fluierul (pipe), Drâmba (mouth harp).
Clear explanations of the instruments’ history, sound and materials are provided by the band in the “About” section of their website here.
Folk in Black Metal
What distinguishes Marțolea from most of the Folk-Black metal bands is the apparent simplicity in the execution of the music. The riffs flow very simply, the rhythms are never too complex but the arrangements are so catchy.
That being said, Folk Metal as whole is so valuable because it can surface anywhere, from Eastern Europe to Scandinavia and back to the Middle East, and thus offer so much variety.
Other diverse Folk Metal bands to check out: early Ulver, Metsatöll, Al-Namrood, Vintersorg, Orphaned Land, Isengard, etc..
Album Highlights: Vine Muma Pădurii, Joimărițele, Zorii, Noaptea and Spaima.