#Vorga Beyond The Palest Star

6 min read

Band: Vorga
Album: Beyond the Palest Star
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Release date: 29 March 2024
Country: Germany
Format reviewed: High-Quality Digital Recording

The easiest way to describe this masterpiece of an album is simply: POWER. The sheer strength of the music is literally mind-boggling. I have heard of Vorga before, but for some reason, I was never tempted enough to listen to their music, although I had heard plenty of good things about their 2022 effort “Striving Towards Oblivion” (I will definitely have to check out that one as well).

In terms of melodic/ atmospheric black metal, “Beyond the Palest Star” is as close to perfection as it can get, particularly in the last two years or so. It is the kind of record that engulfs you completely into the music, allowing you to feel every note, every beat and every word of it. As mentioned previously, there is power to be found in it that surpasses the standard. The instrumentation is masterfully executed, being complex without being pretentious, and varied without sounding avant-garde. To put it simply, it is the perfect mix of classic black metal edge and rawness, captivating melodies, excellent musicianship, and a mood that is truly hard to beat. I don’t seem to find anything out of place or wrong with this album, I just love it, start to finish. The lack of filler material is also a bonus.

The album features seven tracks, the first of which being Voideath. Starting off with an anticipating moody guitar riff and dramatic drum fills, it already gives a hint of what there is to come. Soon after, the song starts out in its full glory, with a round of blast beats and a simple synth background accompanying the main riff. Then, there’s a sudden shift, and the vocals come in, all guns blazing. This is where the epicness of the song becomes notcieable. The melody is undoubtedly melancholic, yet undoubtedly powerful, the vocals deliver a soul touching performance, the drums wrapping everything beautifully. It is the kind of song that you don’t just simply forget, it reaches something within you. The guitar work becomes more and more impressive as the song progresses, featuring a short lead passage, as a detail, It exuberates a sense of longing, which is probably the emotion that could summarize the album the best.

The Sophist follows up, exploring further the band’s capabilities and pushing the album’s musical limits further. The riffs are structured similarly to its predecessor, being constant throughout the song, while still maintaining their trademark uniqueness. It is also a significantly lower-paced song compared to Voideath, maintaining a middle to slow pace during most parts. There are, of course, segments where everything speeds up, and the contrasting value that they bring really helps highlight the overall diversity of the song. The vocal technique is also a little bit different, featuring a variety of extreme vocal styles, from the trademark high screeches of the band to more moody, lower-pitched ones. The bass is also more in focus on this track, adding another layer of depth to the composition.

The third track, Magical Thinking starts out with an intriguing synth passage and a movie quote, before kicking into a mysterious composition, with an undoubtedly darker feel than the previous music. The atmosphere is more claustrophobic in a sense, which is accentuated by the mid-paced tempo of the song. The rhythm and lead guitars are also more differentiated, featuring two almost opposing riffs in terms of structure. The tempo picks up at the half of the track, inducing a noticeable atmosphere shift, long with the return of that “longing” feeling I described earlier. This time around, however, the performance is much more emotionally charged and melancholic, an unexpected touch given the overall musical context of the record. And the solo it contains is just pure bliss to listen to. The song ends in a manner that reflects its beginning, featuring a slight repeat of the synth intro right at the end of it, a nice touch considering the symmetry of the overall composition. All in all, it is one of the best songs on the album.

The Cataclysm brings about a shift, leaving behind the melancholic elements of its predecessor, and putting the emphasis on the music’s innate power. The drums have a galloping-like feel to them, which helps highlight the pace of the track, and it gives it a strong, catchy feel. It is the kind of song that would be undoubtedly appealing in a live context, because it would surely be able to get the audience involved. It is also the first song I would recommend to someone trying to get into Vorga’s music, or into black metal in general. There is a strong feeling of grandiosity and epicness attached to both the instrumentation and the vocals, a feature that attracted me to the song in the first place.

Tragic Humanity starts out with yet another touching melodic riff, that is soon joined by the almost march-like drums and a tinge of synth. Structurally, it reminds me of old Dimmu Borgir and Emperor, whose influence is undoubtedly there. The vocal performance offers once again a wide variety of techniques and styles, a diversity which is reflected by the frequent tempo shifts. Towards the middle, however, the lead guitars are highlighted once again, the pace becoming more stable, featuring both blast beats and mid-tempos, but more constantly compared to the first half of the song. Noticeably, on this track in particular, the lead guitar is the star of the show. There are a lot of decorative elements included in the riffing, which is already charged with melody, there’s nothing more you could wish for.

Approaching the album’s end, Fractal Cascade is once again proof of the quality of this band’s compositions. A rather mid-paced track, it is really easy to vibe with, and surprisingly catchy, with one of the best vocal performances on the whole album. I appreciate especially the dramatic flair it has, the vocalist singing the lyrics as if they were a monologue of some sort, emphasizing all the melodic aspects of the guitar riffs, which once again deliver the best of the best. The latter half of the song features a faster tempo, going into blast beats, before everything stagnates, leaving only those amazing vocals and the guitars, before returning to the initial, slower pace, bringing a pleasant feeling of familiarity to the end of the song, which I can’t figure out if it’s intentional or not. Reaching the end of the song, the drums again go into blast beats, before succumbing to silence

Marking the end of the journey there is the seventh track, Terminal, which starts with yet another peculiar synth passage, which is soon joined by doomy black metal riffs that don’t cease to send chills down my spine. This album is surely going for a dramatic exit. The vocal performance carries the same sort of delivery as on the previous track, yet there is more anticipation to be found in the instrumental, which lets you know that there is surely something big coming up soon. The drum fills also push this feeling of anticipation to the front, as the pace speeds up, the pressure becoming higher and higher, the music becoming more and more epic with each passing note. Finally, the song goes into an epic tremolo riff, accompanied by blast beats, and soaring high screeches. The guitar solo, is once again, nothing short of mesmerizing. It is utterly cinematic, in a sense. Nearing the end of the song, everything fades to a buildup passage, that once again, delivers a dose of unapologetic power on behalf of the band. There is strength, there is melancholy, there is epicness, and there is, once again, that longing. The chime of a bell signals once and for all, the end.

I am at a loss of words… Nothing I was able to say in this review can accurately describe the intensity of “Beyond the Palest Star”. This is surely making my top 5 2024 albums at the end of the year. Listen to it, you will not regret it. 10/10 Ioana

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10/10 Immortal Classic
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