I almost deleted the digital promo for this thinking I had only just reviewed it but nope that was last month and ‘Verses From Ancient Times.’ Vardan is already on his second album of 2015 and if what the PR says is correct (Metal Archives says otherwise) his 23rd in total so far. Is he actually going to do a Psychic TV and release an album every month this year? Well I wouldn’t be surprised. Perhaps his label Moribund has a load already queued up, perhaps the Sicilian sends each of them over with a fresh horses head and they dare not keep putting them out. Someone has to be buying them all, hell someone has to keep on reviewing them all. As far as that is concerned, it appears to be me!
Luckily I am not getting bored of his one man branded assault on the black metal cosmos yet and do genuinely find each of his albums interesting and versatile enough to merit attention. After the slightly more charged and upbeat last album the five tracks here again see him reverting back to a misanthropic insular and isolated form. Divided into simple parts by numerical track title this comes in bristling with sharp clattering sound and a hefty unleashed wretched screech. Keyboard tones are lush and quite gorgeous, the melody is incredibly strong straight away and the spirit of old Burzum is all over this as it draws you into its hypnotic plodding arms. It has a warmth but a numbing one, moribund is a good description and although gloomy it also is not without a certain brightness about it, perhaps due to a good production that doesn’t leave you quite covered in slimy murk. The cackling screams are really at their most necrotic and dreadful here and come out the mix with plenty of force about them. It’s a somewhat short tempered opener and the second part is slower with an almost shoegaze vibe coming from the melody as the gurgling yell elongates and stretches within it. It buries the listener deep within the ground or that is how it feels, comfortably cloaking within its maudlin harmony like a slow working but numbing narcotic, taking all the pain away. Its musical euthanasia in blackened form and as things wither and die the departing is quite a beautiful one. This track definitely has a post black metal feel to its melody and would not be out of place on a track by Alcest or An Autumn For Crippled Children; the screams however are way beyond anything such bands would unleash.
Atmosphere is definitely at the forefront here and the funereal tones are bristling courtesy of sharp, snappy snare sound on the third part. I really would like to know what the possessed sounding vocals are spewing out as ugly and contorted as anything out The Evil Dead but they are lost in the abyss of it all, probably summoned out of his throat in a language unknown to man. Weighing heavily is the penultimate 12 minute part acting as a central anchor and really letting the depressive monotone slow pace unspool, drowning you in a toxic waft akin to leaving yourself locked in a car with the exhaust smothering you into ultimate oblivion. Tinged with a real feeling of loneliness it’s a fragrant and ultimately touching piece as is the whole album which flows together perfectly over a perfect compact running time of around 40 minutes. Adding some choral trappings low in the mix on the last part here is one extra dimension that rounds it all off perfectly.
I have to give an extra half mark from the last album as this is an excellently rounded work that fans of bands such as Burzum and Vanhelga will love and for the fact that it is so rare for someone to make the sound of destructive ruin quite so heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Right, I’m ready for the next one!
(8/10 Pete Woods)