Spellbook is the debut full-length album by Canadian one-man death metal act Haiduk. Luka Milojica is the man behind the project, performing all vocals, guitars and bass with the drums being programmed. Haiduk’s only prior release is the 2010 demo Plagueswept, a release with a very different sound to Spellbook. Spellbook is a concept album with a theme of black magic, and each of the ten seals on the cover art represents a track on the album.
While Haiduk started with a raw atmospheric and blackened approach to death metal, Spellbook sees the music become much more polished production wise and also sets a much faster pace for the riffs. Thrash metal influences play a much more important part in the sound now with the music being very much riff based and orientated, with lead guitar sections few and far between. But with they are used, they’re just as furious as the riffs. A particular good example is how lead is used near the end of the album’s closing track Vortex. Luka tops the performance off with a strong growl, and while vocals are obviously more common than guitar leads, he takes plenty of breaks in the lyric deliver to allow full concentration on his riffs, which provide a thrashing and pummelling experience on one hand, but don’t lack atmosphere of a different kind to the demo on the other.
Despite being branded as an album, Spellbook isn’t actually much longer than Haiduk’s Plagueswept demo, although one must bear in mind that said demo was more generous on the amount of tracks that many band’s demo releases. Spellbook contains ten tracks, all in the death/thrash style and they’re all relatively short and to the point compositions. Four of them don’t even hit the three minute mark and the album is over in about thirty-three minutes. I think that’s definitely okay for Haiduk’s style, although Luka certainly proves himself capable of holding an album in this style for any period of time and I find myself easily enjoying even consecutive listens of Spellbook without getting bored.
Normally I don’t think Spellbook would be my kind of death metal but there’s an honest kind of charm that just makes the music appealing and Luka Milojica clearly has a good ear for riffs not to mention a powerful growl. He’s certainly played to his apparent strengths for this album and that’s why in my eyes the end result is such a success. It’s the kind of album that repeated listens only makes it better and I find myself highly impressed with it.
(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven (http://metaltube.freeforums.org))