I have a feeling that if you look up ‘prolific’ in the dictionary you’ll find the standard definition crossed out and one man Italian atmospheric black metal band Vardan inserted. It’s what, about three albums in eighteen months? And depending where you look between seven and twelve in total. The PR says ‘restless’…. I say ‘insomniac’.
But what about quality? Can you keep the threshold high enough with that kind of output?
Well from the opener ‘A Broken Existence’, one of three tracks in about thirty five minutes, the stall is laid out for you. Slow, cold hypnotic songs, harsh riffs with sharp treble melody lines and cymbal heavy drumming. The vocals are excellent, mixing a well defined, echoing and snarling delivery with occasionally some almost clean howls. Repetition of musical themes with the heavy echo and the constant tap of the cymbals brings on a trance-like nod, a gentle, introverted drift into another landscape, one of shadows and contemplation, a bleakness and a loneliness too. The title track continues the theme, pretty much continuing the sedate progress, a little more slowly perhaps, a touch quieter. ‘An Abstract Voice’ is the mournful conclusion, a shift in the riff but the theme continued.
Really, you have to like this style to get Vardan. If I’m being brutal many of you will find this dull, routine and repetitive. However there are two things to bear in mind: Firstly if ever there is a style of music that is created simply to express the singular vision of an individual without regard to how others see it, it is this; secondly never mistake ‘repetitive’ for ‘boring’. They do not mean the same thing. Give me this over technical, stale, generic orthodox black metal any day. This style, and this album, gives me pause for breath, takes me places, creates a space within myself to nurture my own creativity. It moves me, which is what all art should do. I love the genre.
This though? We’ll, the album may not be the best of its kind, but it is up there, far far from the worst and yes maybe it does break no new ground but it is emotional, well constructed and with moments of real flare. The man may be prolific at present but he is also fascinating in his simple use of a theme to give your own thoughts time to grow. Isolationist, yes, and actually a pretty impressive talent. Give Vardan half an hour of your time and let him change the world around you.