23 Apr 2022 - Knut
Atmospheric Black Metal/Post Black Metal | Eisenwald (Europe), Profound Lore Records (North America/RoW) | Release date: 22 Apr 2022
On their previous release, Ageless Fire, Vanum had really found their footing with brave and monumental Black Metal. Their music immediately grabs your attention and keeps it through the whole album. Intense and energetic drumming, rolling bass and riffing guitars that push melody after melody, building up a such grandiose soundscape that it sometimes borders on symphonic black metal, even without any string instrument but just a touch of synths. And they continue their venture steadily on this new album
The turquoise and captivating landscape painting by Petri Ala-Maunus used on the cover fits perfectly to the music on this album is about: a grandeur approach to Black Metal. The way the band uses the guitars shifting between melodic riffs, arpeggio and tremolo technique and high-pitched solos gives the impression of an undulating soundscape. It is so impressively done throughout that the whole listening experience comes out as you have witnessed a tour de force. A feeling that is established through repeated listening as the melodies take hold of your ear canals.
The vocal is immersed in the sonics as an instrument of its own; it growls, it is hoarse, it is sometimes desperate as it sneaks it way into and around the massive music. Like on the first song ”Adversary”: when it bursts through the massive wall of sound hoarse-growling and places itself in the middle and disgorges out the melody with the lyrics. This song is yet another example of the way they form their tracks. Quick shifts in pace, but always with a melody that holds your attention, drums shifting from steady rhythm to blast drums and the high-pitched guitar that squirms in between the heavy riffs.
”The Gateway And The Key” is a showcase example of how the band engages you with the tremolo guitars to push the engaging drums fast forward. This song is very fast, but with enough air in between the layered music to keep it utterly engaging. This song gives a wavy impression with the onslaughts of heavy riffs and the way they use the tremolo to keep the melody intact and keep a fast space.
Fast arpeggios open the song ”Frozen In Vile Illumination” and turn into a melodic tremolo when the rest of the instruments join. The synths giving the impression of a choir soaring over the dense sonics from the restless guitars. The song widens and opens up a broad soundscape even with drums in blast mode. Again, the riffs and arpeggios give the wavy feeling as they speed forward with sometimes high pitched guitars and the sonics get even more monumental. Towards the end of the song, the pace slows down and it ends in a mellow mode with guitar strumming and sound effects echoing the vast soundscape it has laid in its wake.
With the title song ”Legend” we are back to blast drums holding the pace while the guitars riff in a holding pattern, opening up for the vocals and high pitched guitars that drives the pace fast forward. Near the mid-section of the song, the high-pitched guitar runs wild in an impressive solo before the massive soundscape slows down and opens up with synths and it all sounds like a choir is back and rises above the turquoise landscape.
The synths follow into the last and long song ”Beneath The Pillars OF Earth And Air” where the band takes time to develop and unfold the soundscape. What starts as a more staccato rhythm than the other songs, soon opens up. The way they use all the instruments and the multi-layered dense music paired with soaring synths make this song very cinematic, like they want to capture the multi-layered painting on the cover into one song. It shifts between fast tremolo-driven music racing from part to part and soon it folds out to a wide soundscape where the sound of timpani might echo in the distance through the effects. This section is arranged like a classical music piece before it picks up speed again leading to an end with sound effects echoing and fading away.
These musicians with associations and background in bands like Ash Borer and Fell Voices and others have really created a 46 minutes tour de force of an album. At first listen, it might seem a bit turbulent as the cover shows, because of the massive attack on all your senses with the full force of the music and the emotional charge it gives. But repeated listens make you find the patterns and the layers where the melodies emerge from and it becomes an Atmospheric Black Metal symphony in five moments.