Into despair we delve…
Moribund Records have featured in these pages many a time (click here for a list of reviews of albums and interviews with bands from the label), and for good reason. Yet again, MR’s Jason Guest inspects three new releases from the label: two new albums from Italian one-man misery guts Vardan and a re-recorded album from USA’s Wende.
In the meantime, into despair we delve…
Vardan – Verses From Ancient Times
Release date: 20 January 2015
It appears that one-man misery guts Vardan (Facebook) doesn’t do anything except make music. Including the two releases reviewed here, his output totals ten albums (with three in 2013 and three in 2014), two splits, and an early demo released since 2007. It’s February and already he has two under his belt. I wouldn’t be surprised if by year’s end he’s released an album for every month, perhaps the seasonal changes that he endures in his Italian home reflecting the different shades of his misery. Oh, the agony must be unbearable.
Verses From Ancient Times brings more of the cold, raw and lo-fi black metal that we’ve come to expect from Vardan. The album plots an arduous and angst-ridden journey, the unwavering pulse of the drums driving the tracks wearily forward, the endless riffs icily haunting, and the vocals shrieking from the near-distance, the lo-fi sound cultivating the dreary and dark wasteland.
While the first two tracks complement each other well, when ‘III’ slows the tempo, the contrast in dynamics is all the more effective and thankfully stops the album descending into monotony. But still, so far, so-so. Bringing to the album that dark shine that would have otherwise been missing had it been in a similar vein to the other three, with numerous shifts in tone, feel and mood, ‘IV’ is a jarring and harrowing experience and rounds out the album well, rescuing it from the tedium it could have so easily succumbed to.
6 out of 10
Vardan – The Night, The Loneliness
Release date: 17 February 2015
The mood of The Night, The Loneliness is – surprise surprise – melancholy but in a different way to Verses… as black metal rage features more as a dreary backdrop for Vardan’s more subtle and light atmospheric use of keyboards and guitars. Sitting atop the familiar Vardanian foundation of fire, the soft keyboard sounds and guitar arpeggios and gentle strums create a more subdued mood and a soft all-consuming haze.
With the tracks shifting between the light and the dark in the varying structures and arrangements, the deep sense of sorrow and emptiness that Vardan wants to capture and convey is much more effective. You’d think that shitting out album after album, Vardan’s works would suffer in quality, but he doesn’t produce bad albums. Granted, they’re not great, but there are many great moments spread across them. On Verses… it’s ‘IV’, and here it’s ‘Pt.2’, Pt.4’, and numerous passages strewn across the remaining tracks. Like Verses…, the strengths of this album is the brittle feebleness, the disinclination, and the yearning that is so very heavily felt.
7 out of 10
- Pt. 2
- Pt. 3
- Pt. 4
- Pt. 5
- Pt. 6
Wende – The Third And The Noble
Release date: 17 February 2015
Ooh, it’s another one of those ‘best kept secrets’ that we seem to be hearing a lot about lately. And according to the promo material, USA’s Wende produces “simply some of the best Burzumic black metal since… well, Burzum.” So yes, it’s a shitty sounding album that’s been recorded in a cave or a forest or atop a freezing cold mountain on the worst and cheapest equipment found in some nowhere pawn shop at a price reflecting the ignorance of the shop owners. A re-recording of his eponymous 2009 demo, The Third And The Noble, the album plots that familiar trudge through desolation, despondency, melancholy and misery with the occasional foray into the fuming and the furious.
With eerie opener ‘Paths’ paves the way for the second and third tracks, it’s with ‘Nothingness’ that the album starts to do something interesting. The first eighty seconds a fast and chaotic burst of bile, it soon gives way to the slow drudgery of the remaining eight minutes where Wende’s mastery of trance-inducing black metal begins to emerge. From here on in, Wende’s capacities as a musician as well as his compositional skills continue to emerge. In the almost-two-minute toil of ‘Everything Ends’, Wende conveys as much emotion as he does in the extended epics of ‘Sorrowful Journey of Ages’ and ‘Beyond The Moon and Beneath The Sea’. Funereal at some points, ambient at others, and always seething with rage, If you like Burzum and think that his post-incarceration release are shit then this is for you.
7 out of 10
- Jarl’s Kin
- Journey Of The Unseen Wrath
- Sorrowful Journey Of Ages
- Beyond The Moon And Beneath The Sea
- Everything Ends
- Towards Ragnarok (Burzum cover)