I am really beginning to lose track here. This appears to be the fifth Moribund released Vardan album I have reviewed this year but looking into things a little further the Sicilian workhorse has gone and sneaked out a couple more via other labels so far in 2015 bringing his tally up to seven. It must be hell if you are a completest (if such a thing exists) and want to collect everything he has done, some sources claiming it is 19 full length albums so far. As the PR release states “Wander Between the Fog and Shadows and you will find VARDAN forever lurking..” Cannot disagree with that at all, he seems to be lurking every bloody where!
Somehow though he keeps pulling the goods out the bag and the one man black metal machine never seems to deliver something duff and always manages to draw me in to his musical cosmos. This time around we get three lengthy compositions that are no doubt designed to bring more than a chill to the air despite the fact they are due to be released in the grip of summer. First up we have the title track which clatters away with the slow plodding drums and a mesmerising funereal tone to the upfront melody. It’s incredibly mesmerising in that tried and tested Burzumic way and when the eerie keyboards and background howls add textures it really sends a cold shiver down the spine that makes you think that someone has walked over your grave. There are some pulsing synthesized tones used as a throbbing refrain in this shadowy realm and they really do add to things and conjure up that massive shrouded sense of atmosphere that the artist is so adept at. The length of the song may well be well over ten minutes but does not grow stale in the slightest; I could well have handled it going on for double the length.
It’s deep into the evil woods next for ‘The Solitary Death Of A Forest Spirit’ and the sense of desolation saturates things. The guitar work really reminds me of The Cure here, something I have said in the past as we get lost in a forest (no pun actually intended) and it has a loose feel about it as it slowly jangles away. Suddenly the volume increases and although still lower in the mix the vocals have a howling primeval shriek about them, tortured and necromantic almost as though they are searching for that cabin in the woods to claim the souls and flesh of those foolish enough to venture into their depths. They are not going to find them though as here there is only a sense of abandonment, and decay. Still this does get faster and more full-blooded as it continues to search with hunger through the impenetrable wilderness. Some compelling sound motifs and nuances keep it ever interesting and again this is as dense as the environment it lurks within drawing you right into its thorny depths.
After these two brilliant tracks the poetically entitled and epic 18 minute ‘Of Dead Dreams Through Funeral Eyes’ has taken more time to work its charm and I have not found it quite as accessible as the rest of the album. It oozes out like mist around a glistening guitar weave and some low bass work meandering behind it and settles into a rhythm that entwines itself around you as you await for the vocals to join in This they eventually do and are every bit as bitter as ever but again slightly restrained never unleashing the full biting lycanthropy that we have heard from the artist in the past. This is definitely one of his more sombre and funereal albums sharing much with the past work of Xasthur but keeping the melody flowing constantly rather than playing around and lurching away with it in a skewed fashion. The track seems to come to a natural conclusion and then there’s what seems like an unrelated six minutes of music after. I guess it left me feeling a little bemused as I wondered if it was an extra track or part of the main one that made this not work quite so well for me. Still I guess it’s there to keep us on our toes but for me it is the wonderful first couple of tracks on the album that do it for me here more than the final part.
As I have written this a month before the release date and it won’t be published until nearer that I am wondering if I will have the next album in by then; I expect so somehow.
I’m not joking either but the same day I wrote this ‘From The Pale Moonlight’ (Moribund 18 Sept) landed in my inbox.
(7.5/10 Pete Woods)