As we move ever closer to the summer months I find my adoration for Black Metal and Blackened music dwindling. Essentially I am like a Metal tortoise, in the sun I flourish with the brighter more energetic tones of Death, Thrash, Heavy and Power Metal and in the winter I hide away with Black, Drone and Doom Metal. Yet that is not to say that Black Metal cannot be enjoyed the whole year round, sometimes the juxtaposition can be very powerful and make the imagery and esoteric emotions race through oneself.
Finland much like its close by Scandinavian comrades is no stranger to the dark tones of Black Metal. Bands like Archgoat, Beherit, Behexen, Sargeist and Satanic Warmaster spring to mind, in essence the country is rich with influence. Now adding to the pool comes Werewolf Records signed solo artist Vargrav the creation of V-Khaoz, multi-instrumentalist and current booming force in the Black Metal underground. The projects debut Netherstorm from 2018 was met with a great deal of praise and has given the artist a kvlt status. Yet can its successor prove to the world that Vargrav have the power to stay.
The first word that came to me when listening to this album was magical. Not in the sense of Power Metal and not in a light-heated way, more in the means of high fantasy. Then I expanded upon this thought, taking into consideration the huge Symphonic notes about this release and then realised that this album has a striking resemblance to that of Emperor’s classic In The Nightside Eclipse. This album is what I would best describe as trve Symphonic Black Metal, the sort of sound that was pure until it was dethroned by the likes of Dimmu Borgir and the mainstream Black Metal boom. Not to say that I dislike bands from that mainstream group, merely I mean that it is a sound that purist Black Metal fans are sure to appreciate.
As the album progress’ we delve deeper into the traditional Black Metal influence, In Streams From Great Mysteries has the bite and vigour of early Mayhem and combines it with delicate yet over the top Symphonic tones creating a truly awe inspiring blend that pays homage to the past, present and future of Black Metal. Something that I find rather compelling within this album is its ability to blend Raw Black Metal with these mystical orchestrations. For the most part the album exudes aggression and an Old School Black Metal ethic bringing this band to the forefront of the Black Metal scene and helping to meld it for generations to come.
Overall I found Reign In Supreme Darkness to be highly entertaining. Black Metal is a genre that is really alive at the moment, many bands seem to be trialling new, exciting or even worship-like ideas. Thinking of this year alone we have seen Perverticon and Funereal Presence, its an invigorating time for this underground genre, add this with to upcoming waves of Dungeon Synth’s current popularity and you could almost be forgiven for being taken back to the 90’s. I can firmly say that their hasn’t been a better time to start getting into Black Metal than now, and Vargrav prove that with this behemoth of a release.
(8/10 George Caley)