We last heard from this strangely entitled Ukrainian lot when they dropped debut album ‘Once Hidden From Sight’ back in 2013. It didn’t go down remarkably well and so this one was approached with a certain amount of trepidation especially as it is a whopping film length, double disc, four tracker weighing in at a hefty 97 minutes. With this in mind anyone with half a brain cell should be aware what sort of category to plonk the group in (hint it definitely isn’t grindcore). Since that debut they have released a live album and a split with Nethermost, hopefully the gap has seen them develop ideas and not get accused of playing it safe within their chosen sub-genre. However considering this is weighty death-doom it’s hardly likely to be a massive reinvention of anything and there are certain preconceived ideas that you can take into this before even hearing a slow, agonizing wrought out note.
There’s a hefty enough concept behind things here and mythology of different cultures plays a part with tracks entitled with corresponding language taking in Greek, Hindi and various other script (using translated titles for purpose of review). These stories and interpreted from their eternal cycle here into tracks that span anything up to half an hour in length but rather than attempting to go further than that here it is the music we shall concentrate on.
Although length wise this shares a certain amount of depth as found in the music by the likes of Esoteric or Skepticism it is not all emotionally soul-churning and as first number ‘Mātariśvan’ proves there is plenty of light within the darkness here. The first notes have a near feeling of air and warmth to them and as clean vocals join in they are fragrant and harmonic with it. There’s no shortage of weeping guitar lines and melody is enticing. The number has an epic length to unfold and is no hurry and after some almost gothic sounding rich vocal parts some deathly growls temper things. In fact there’s plenty of diversity among the vocal interplay to keep you involved as the music drifts in quite a shoegazing fashion. Naturally apart from the vocals you are no doubt wondering if there is anything in the way of death elements to go with the obvious doom side of things? Yes there are if you are patient and that makes them all the more intense when they finally gallop into gear and romp off, flailing leads trailing all the way with the pounding drums. I find ‘Pharmakos’ the next slice wandering a little more into funeral doom territory, it has an austere sense of grace and majesty that almost ceremonial to it. Yes there is a cloak of Skepticism about it as well as perhaps Ahab. Vocals cleanly chant and go into long gravid roars presenting the best of both worlds whilst it all slowly smothers you. Sure there are a couple of “false finishes” to the track with things starting up again with acoustic parts that some may think “finish already” but it’s the nature of the beast and obviously this is no album for a quick flippant listen. For me it works well and adds to the immersive atmospheres.
Onto the second disc and ‘Fuimus’ has some cascading riff work and spoken word parts and dances along picking up the pace considerably. It’s obvious that the players have dextrous precision to their craft and the melodies are both glorious and gently shimmer in the slower more acoustic parts. There’s some deathly ballast about the choppier tempo and some sharp guitar cadence that is certainly going to be noted by fans of early My Dying Bride, there’s even some ‘coasting along’ melodic interplay that wouldn’t be out of place on a Mastodon album. This is probably the track with the most going on in it and at just 19 minutes the perfect one for radio play! Not so final half hour number ‘Noe’ which could be looked at as tying in all the composite parts of everything that has come before and bringing them to a lengthy and engrossing conclusion. Yep that could be a bit of a cop out but explaining every single nuance of this as it twists and turns would be akin to both a spoiler and a word count as excessive as the album itself.
‘Palimpsests’ has seen VDTM come on in leaps and bounds and although this is an album that is going to take a lot of listens to get acclimatized to it’s well worth it. Having played it myself 4 times (yep that’s spending 6 ½ hours in its company) I am going to give it a rest for a couple of weeks and look forward to coming back to it again then. If you are one of those people that just treat yourself to buying one album a month, you will certainly get your money’s worth here!
(8/10 Pete Woods)