Monday, February 8, 2016

VANAD VARJUD – Dismal Grandeur in Nocturnal Aura

Vanad Varjud – Dismal Grandeur in Nocturnal Aura (2016, Symbol of Domination Prod.)

Coming out of Estonia, Vanad Varjud is a dark ambient/funeral/doom/drone/black metal trio that seems to be trying to make beautiful yet aggressive dark music. Their tremolo guitars riffs are counter balanced by a meditative simplistic piano/keyboard soundtrack and the traditional Black metal chants.

While mixing almost every genre that is trending in underground doom and black metal, Vanad Varjud seems to be shooting to be the heirs of Arcturus, more precisely the Aspera Hiems Symfonia era that was a masterpiece of avant-garde metal that transcends black metal with beautiful orchestrations and a penchant for progressive music. Vanad Varjud are like this band that tries to pinpoint many elements of Black metal and other subgenres that they like and create an amalgam of this diverse yet ambitious view.

In fact, Dark ambiant is a genre that is difficult to handle because of its wide array. However, this is an efficient way to add depth and guts to a recording. It creates a symphony when like in ‘’Tume Kamber’’ the guitar riff plays a different melody than the keyboards. On ‘’Dismal Dusk’’ there are bits of music that could remind of chamber music or jazz played almost silently during a quite long time. Shortly after, straight old Black metal comes blazing and reminds us of the capacity of Vanad Varjud to master the genre’s key elements even with a penchant for experimentation and a lack of self-editing.

Overall, this is an interesting album but I think that like Myrkur’s 2015 release, Vanad Varjud will split the Black metal world between the haters and the lovers. This is not BM for purists but I think that Dismal Grandeur in Nocturnal Aura will have more lovers than haters.

On my side, I am not sure which side I will be on and even if I admire the song ‘’Dismal Dusk’’ very much, the transgender oddity that is ‘’Tume Kamber’’ is a low point for me. This is an uneven record and on four songs of 10 minutes or more each it weakens the album when one of them fells flat. To be fair, I have to admit that the album grows on me with every subsequent listens. Maybe I’ll revised my rating later this year but for now those are my first thoughts.


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