What comes to your mind when you think of black metal? It could be church burnings and the grim forests of Norway. Or possibly blasting instruments and low production values. Maybe your image of black metal is entirely based around Immortal. Or perhaps you think of a band covered in pentagrams and corpse paint... playing pop music with growled vocals. If that last one doesn't come to mind, then you haven't been introduced to a little band called Semargl. They're definitely out of the ordinary.
Semargl is made up of (from left to right) Romulus, Anima, Rutarp, Adele Ri, and Shaddar. They make a unique blend of black metal and pop that they call "satanic pop metal". That's also the name of their most recent album, what a coincidence! They started off back in 1997 making pure black metal and somehow gravitated towards this equally amazing amalgam of music.
Of course, any time a band betrays their fanbase and changes to a completely unrelated genre, they're going to have some backlash. In fact, it's sometimes hard to sort through the pile of negative comments on their music videos and various website profiles (ie. Facebook, Last.fm, their official site..), so I'm going to say what needs to be said: Semargl is a great band and makes great music. There, I said it. And I will stick by it. They started off making quality black metal and now they make quality pop metal. I've been looking for something like this since I stumbled upon the genre known as industrial metal. You can try, but you'll never find anything quite like Semargl.
I'm not exactly sure what prompted their change into the band that you see in the video above. They're a Ukrainian band, which is not exactly an area known for its metal. They've also gone through plenty of lineup changes. Rutarp and Shaddar are the only founding members left in the group. I'm sure it had something to do with Rutarp. Just look at that face. Plus, what kind of vocalist would willingly give up their position as frontman to play keyboard? Someone who's busy transforming their band's genre, that's who.
Semargl released their first full-length album in 2005, Attack on God. By all means, this was a good black metal album. It had blast beats for days, symphonic keyboards, and all the devilish screaming you could ask for. It's a very different sound then the band you were introduced to.
The band even had a whole satanic mythology/philosophy that they created and centred their first 4 albums around. They put a lot of effort into their work and fully developed their ideas until it was time to try something new. I'm still not sure what prompted the change into their specific genre, but it can be seen as a new phase of the band. Semargl changed their members, they changed their logo, and they started making a new type of music. Their black metal days are behind them but they keep their costumes and face paint as an homage to their roots. If you strip away everything, Semargl is a band that just wanted to try something different. And different they did.
Rutarp is keeping his own black metal spirit alive with his side project of the same name. You can check out one of his songs here. I also wanted to include this remix of Credo Revolution by Zardonic, since it's how I found out about Semargl in the first place.
You can find Semargl at the following links (copied from their website):