It’s about time. Vesania entered my psyche with two distinctive symphonic style black metal albums “God the Lux” (2005) and “Distractive Killusions” (2007). Now after seven years, they’re back with “Deus ex Machina”.
The titles are spartan: Halflight, Innocence, Disillusion, Vortex, Dismay, Glare, Notion, Disgrace, Fading and Scar. Each track is individually crafted to tell its own story, which revolves around turmoil and seemingly hopeless personal situations. Musically, the medium is once again frosty symphonic black metal with twists, turns and evil sounding distortions which are designed to blow your brains out. Of course there’s talent aplenty with members from Behemoth, Vader, Decapitated and Crionics, and, as I remember from seeing them live, a fearsome keyboard player. A Polish supergroup? Well, they’re on the march as usual, sawing away at our brains with “Halflight”. Death is all around, keyboards swirl and the nastiness is characteristically measured. It’s distinctive and original, even featuring an eerily ominous clean chorus and a faintly Eastern tone. “Innocence” then sounds if it’s sneering at us with its musical hall rhythm. There’s a musical hall rhythm or is that bats fluttering around as the vocalist croaks darkly. I sense that “Deus ex Machina” is more adventurous and experimental than ever. Insanity is in the air. The guitar plays an exotic and eccentric tune. The distant distortion makes it creepy. The vocalist preaches croakily again on “Disillusion”, but there’s always a flow even if faeces are flowing down the river as they appear to be. This is cleverly constructed. The theatrical nastiness reminds me of Carach Angren. It’s somewhere between complete madness and sheer brilliance. The mocking lofty chorus strikes up – I found it comical but in a way that made me closer to this gripping album than I already was. Horrible cries capture the grisly scene. The vista doesn’t get any better on “Vortex”. This is probably my favourite track. Thunderous, shadowy drums and keys provide the terrible atmosphere. Again those fluttering keys give an aura of insanity. A turn of the handle and a sawing motion accompanied by the indistinguishable sound of crowds leads to more aural images of chaos and disorder. I bet they had fun making this.
The symphonic pomp of “Dismay” follows as the harsh march goes on. Fury and off beat insanity get thrown into the mix. “Glare” is more shredding carnage with another of those grotesquely melodious choruses, but not for long, as it drives forward with Dimmu like theatricality towards its creepy and ghoulish end. It’s pulsating, entertaining and utterly compelling. A dark voice rings out to a beat which has faint tones of disco, but the darkest clouds soon descend and we find ourselves in a classically bleak and all-conquering atmosphere. Again the structure is gripping as we move effortlessly from one black tableau to the next, but with imaginative touches everywhere. Rarely has punishment been so enjoyable or expressed so evocatively. The album takes a more serious and sinister turn with “Disgrace” which kaleidoscopically and symphonically creates an air of hardship, despair and regret. I often write of drums having authority but here we depend on it as it dispassionately dictates the mood of horror. Meanwhile there’s a colourful guitar solo, a dark chorus and a menacing vocal. It’s all in keeping with the mood. “Fading” is more upbeat but we’re deep in the mire now. Again this track develops and tells its individual story. Before long we’re in a bleak world, where industrial marching matches distorted melancholies and creates a multi-faced picture of utter bleakness. The end is nigh, and “Scar” is as if Mr Tätgren’s Pain is having a black metal crisis. But this is Polish black metal and no-one knows how to express utter despair and harshness better. Behind the military front is another world of symphony, distortion, torture and pain. “Scar” marches on in typically uncompromising fashion.
Vesania pull together the ideas that you thought others might have been capable of. Collectively they exploit creative ideas and make the most of sound possibilities, pulling it together and operating coherently on many levels. There’s not much light, just darkness and shadow. Vesania have excelled themselves here. Every moment, every movement has impact. “Deus ex Machina” has completeness. It is an album of sheer richness and enjoyment. This is for those of us with a propensity to black metal, a twisted mind and an appreciation of wide ranging creativity.
(10/10 Andrew Doherty)