I’m not especially a fan of TesseracT or Meshuggah, who are quoted as a reference point for this band from Norway. I suppose it’s handy to have a reference point to attract potential interest, but what counts is the creativity of the band itself.
Going by the first track “Mask”, there’s plenty of interest here. There’s a strong groove line, it’s heavily djenty and the vocals operate between growls and a haunting, eastern style. Essentially what I heard were progressive patterns and rhythms, hence the references to the aforementioned bands. What I liked was the layers. “Stamina” was deep and dark, and flows very nicely, but behind it is a deliciously sophisticated rhythm. The creativity I was looking for is there. “Echo to the World” starts with a twisty rhythm before bowling off into darkness. The keyboards add a touch of magic. The core line is crusty but what appealed to me the most was what was going on in the background – that rhythm, and a haunting chorus, which briefly puts in an appearance. Time for me to indulge in comparisons now: the core line reminds me strongly of Uneven Structure in both djentiness and vocal output. But again the delight of “Requiem”, where I reached this conclusion, was the subtleties going on all around. The pattern doesn’t alter much – pungent rhythms with lurking atmospheres and occasional excursions. There is a contrast between the dark and lighter side, but to Vanora’s credit the two blend well. What’s missing is the epic quality of which this style is evidently capable. But as I listened to “Laughing Windows”, it was as if this second level was reined in and not allowed to burst out in spite of the lush colours and variances, which appear and disappear almost apologetically without musical emphasis. It’s a pity. For once, Vanora devote more time to the structure on “Poles Apart” but even here the heaviness gives way to a more haunting instrumental and vocal section before ending without a satisfactory conclusion. This is all the more unfortunate as it’s the last song, barring a dark and djent-ridden bonus track.
Some albums are like meat and potatoes. Others have trimmings. The plus point of this album for me is the trimmings. The core so-called modern metal production is fine but largely the same. “Momentum” is an accomplished album but needed re-balancing to improve its effect and intensity. I suspect there’s something even better out there to come from Vanora.
(7/10 Andrew Doherty)