Label: Vendetta Records
Release Date: 1 October 2019
Country: United States
Format reviewed: WAV
I’m a self-educated metalhead. I never had someone to guide me through the different sub-genres and tell me about our history. All I know today and the appreciation I have for metal comes from countless hours of searching for music on different platforms, reading about our culture and scouring different forums for that next band that will open new doors for me. However, with so much time spent trying to understand the characteristics of each branch also came some sort of disdain for the groups that play too much by the rulebook and so, my favourite bands are usually the ones that try innovate. I love albums that make me think: “What the hell is this supposed to be?”. I love albums that have so many elements moulded together that make it impossible to be tagged without making up a ridiculous new sub-genre. So the question is, what do I see different in VUKARI?
VUKARI formed in 2013 in Chicago, Illinois and “Aevum” is their third album. The group is made out of four members that aren’t exactly strangers to heavy music, with a few notable mentions being drummer Mike DeStefano that played live with Abigail Williams and guitarist Jace Kiburz that plays in Warforged. The album contains eight songs that make up for 55 minutes of playtime. According to the band itself, their name “stems from the word “vucari” from ancient Slavic, which was essentially a group of young men in the village who paraded around in wolf masks during certain festivals.” The title of the record comes from Latin and it translates to “aeon” or “everlasting time” and in scholasticism, it refers to a mode of existence experienced by angels and by the saints in heaven. In other words, it is a state that logically lies between the eternity of God and the temporal experience of material beings. I believe that the choice is more than fitting. VUKARI plays black metal that sits at the border between atmospheric and just good, ol’ plain black.
So again, what is special about this band? That would be confidence and proficiency. There is a lot to be appreciated in bands that do things straight forward, but do them with an astonishing attention to details. “Aevum” opens with “Abrasive Hallucinations (Reality Hemorrhaging)” and like any good opener, it gives you a good idea of how the rest of the album will play out. A droning guitar opens the path and it is shortly followed by clear guitar notes and minimalistic, tribal, percussion. After the first minute, the song makes a transition to a more distorted sound before finally erupting in a whirlwind of blast beats and piercing, albeit distant, vocals. There is one more short passage that feels like a short breath of air before the final burst in the last moments of the song. Just from this track alone, most should understand why I said Vukari is on the border between atmospheric and plain black. Throughout the song, there is a thick atmosphere, but not necessarily one of melancholy, like the one that is heavily overused by most bands. It’s more like a mixed bag of feelings that stem from something bigger, but the fury of classic black is also very prominent and it sticks all the way to the end. Another highlight for me was the fourth track, “Curiosity and Obsession”, which to me is distinctively emotive. The sixth song, “Disparity (The Great Works)” is, I believe, the apex and also the turning point of the album. It has two very clearly separated halves, the first one being one of the most aggressive moments of the album and the second one being a calm passage, and such coming in almost perfect contrast to one another. However, my personal favourite is the closing song, “Vacating Existence (The Final Departure)”. The longest piece on the album, it’s eleven minutes of grandiosity of immense proportions. A fitting end to such a great composition.
The whole album feels like a flame fueled by rage that even in the calm moments it still remains lit, forever remaining kindled and so, it’s an astonishing cathartic experience. Its strength remains in the talented musicians that conjure a feeling of immensity through their respective mediums that it’s rarely seen. Everything sounds so in sync, so connected that you won’t help but be drawn into those great soundscapes.
I think I made a compelling case for this album but just in case I wasn’t convincing enough, check below an early stream of the full album that will surely tip the scales in its favour. 9/10 Metal Gentleman
9/10 Epic Storm
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