Сруб ​​(​​Srub) – Топь (Bog)

Here’s one that takes careful consideration, due primarily to the cultural background behind it, of which few would be aware outside of its home country.  Eastern Europe often receives a great of the west’s insensitivity, primarily because so few understand anything of its history.  Remember World War I?  Yeah, read about Apis and learn a little about why Serbia was at such odds with Austria.  Remember the Cold War?  Yeah, a lot of hatred towards Eastern Europeans during that time, so much so that it led to massive symbolization via a glut of science fiction horror films in the US in the 1940s and 50s.  That’s kind of cool, but our continued ignorance of history, especially our own, leads us further into ruin, or at least places where we scarcely understand the context of work like this.  It’s often been said by some scholars, with slight derision, that Russia, is roughly ten years behind the rest of the world, culturally speaking, and this argument has often been made for popular music.  The underground?  Well good luck knowing about that if you know little about the country in the first place, which brings us to an important topic.


Make whatever arguments you please about pop music, that’s not what we do here anyway.  But we’ve heard Russian death metal, black metal, tons of stuff, and sometimes it is, to be honest, quite derivative.  But that doesn’t necessarily say anything about the Russian musical landscape itself, you can find that kind of thing anywhere.  What you tend to see is redundancy in its infancy, though redundancy all the same.  However, within the underground there has been a rise over the past two decades that’s focused on “the native”, so to speak, or perhaps as we would usually translate it in English “the folk”.  Russian pagan metal, for example, is probably the most pure form of pagan metal on the planet, though only a few people understand its greatness.  The folk traditions of Russia are ages old and have been embedded in Russians themselves for generations with all kinds of nature spirits, remnants of old gods, and the like to be discovered in the strangest of places.  And when you’re talking about any music utilizing these old traditions, prepare yourself for a real experience.


Сруб, which translates essentially to “The Cabin”, though that doesn’t entirely provide us with the meaning in the original Russian, utilizes “the folk” in such a way that it’s intermingled with occult Goth, for a very unusual and highly memorable result.  Топь is one of several releases the band has done over the past few years, including some incredibly rare versions made by carving wood, including this particular album we’re analyzing today.  So these guys are all about the original, esoteric nature-worship that’s part of the Russian soul, and they do an incredible job of expressing it.  Now, the thing is to most western ears this is going to sound something like Goth, with a more mystical presence, more developed guitars, bass used as almost a tribal pulse, and folk instrumentation.  Much like their rare, boxed sets, the viewer/listener needs to know something about Russian tradition to really grasp it.  Топь combines Goth and post-punk fluidly with folk, incorporating beautifully poetic lyrics that hearken back to the bard tradition of old and new Russia as well as the Russians’ constant focus on the spoken word where poets have been venerated like dead ancestors.  What results is absolute beauty in melancholic form with soul-touched passages that bleed with ages of tradition.  Because of that, the only complaint is that, sadly, most westerners aren’t going to understand what Сруб has done.  There are generations worth of cultural developments in music and thought put into this release, as well as their other material.  Much like the lyrics, which are all in Russian including the liner notes, without truly grasping what it means you may foolishly place western assumptions upon it, which does it a disservice.  Starting with track two, “Лень”, should provide a good background, and then delve further, sit back, breathe, clear you mind, and listen to it for what it is, and you just might realize what it’s about.


Сруб Official VK Page (Russian Facebook)

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Сруб ​​(​​Srub) – Топь (Bog)
Infinite Fog Productions
4.5 / 5