Vesperian Sorrow – Awaken the Greylight

4 min read

Band: Vesperian Sorrow
Album: Awaken the Greylight
Label: Black Lion Records
Release date: April 26th 2024
Country: USA
Format reviewed: High-quality digital recording

A symphony of pure, unleashed power and undoubted masterful musicianship, Vesperian Sorrow’s latest opus, Awaken the Greylight is no joke. Technicality and black metal are usually not meant to be mixed, heck, black metal, at its origin, it’s anything but technical. Many bands, however, attempted to merge these two opposites, but with very little success. Some that have managed, however, are, of course, genre legends Abigor with their 1999 effort Channeling the Quintessence of Satan, and, of course, this particular record I’ve decided to delve into.

In between the intriguing album cover adorning this release and its rather lengthy song titles that at times tend to require a dictionary to aid to their understanding, the band delivers some of the most creative music that ever graced my ears. This is not just symphonic black metal, it is the merging of elements from every subgenre of extreme metal, working together to create what can be described as an eye opening, or better said, ear opening experience. If you heard any sort of quirk that caught your interest on a previous song, the chances of finding something just as interesting on this album are pretty damn high, and I believe this speaks for itself.

When delving into what makes Awaken the Greylight so good, we, of course need to take a look at the songs (obviously, I’m losing my train of thoughts again), the way they are structured, the different layers that construct the instrumentation, the songwriting, and everything else in between. Every melody is well thought in the musical context, with the instruments working in perfect sync, along with the vocals of a similar complexity creating intricate musical patterns, that are impossible to forget soon after the record is all well and done. So, let’s dive into the analysis.

I think the best place to start would be, of course the drums. Even from the first songs it is obvious that the music is mostly high paced, but with many tempo changes littered throughout the song structures. This, of course, brings the drums in focus, showcasing the incredible skill and musicianship of drummer Cristopher Nunez, also known as Kristoph , while also emphasizing the various emotional aspects and feelings associated with the melodies, which feature power, melancholy, and longing. Thus, it would be of no surprise that the drum work consists mostly of galloping blast beats, and many other high tempo variations, along with slower, groovier segments, and even a few almost doomy sequences that accentuate the musical drama.

The guitar work not only mirrors, but it takes the already established complexity of the drums, and pushes it to the next level. Like I’ve mentioned in the beginning of this review, this album shines through its technicality in relationship to the traditional black metal elements, while also blending various other metal styles such as melodic death metal, symphonic metal, and, at times, even power metal, I daresay. This mixture of different elements is noticeable particularly in the riffs and solos. They are undoubtedly melodic, emotionally charged, carrying all of the feelings associated with them and bringing them closer to the listener. They are all well crafted, unique and memorable, their quality impossible to miss, even in the case of a casual listen. I have to emphasize the fact that the solos are otherworldly as well. They are simply breathtaking, you can’t just not love them.

An aspect that might end up lost in the mix, however, just as important as the rest of the music, is the symphonic element of the album. What I find interesting in the case of this record in particular, is how the band doesn’t shy away from using synth and orchestral elements at times, but without overdoing it and making it obnoxious. It exists, more or less, as the context in which the rest of the music unfolds, the backdrop of the music itself. Compared to the rest of the instruments, it is noticeably simple, lacking the complexity of the guitars, for example. This, however, is for the best, as it helps create a beautiful element of contrast within the composition itself.

The last element of the album that needs to be touched upon, is, of course, the vocal performance. To say that it is one of the most impressive in modern extreme metal would be an understanding. It is similar to the one of the Swedish band Zornheym, in terms of the balanced use of harsh, classic extreme metal vocals, and epic, almost power metal style clean vocals. However, what makes it stand out, is, once again, the diversity of techniques present on the extreme side of things. The record features everything from low, death metal style growls to the high banshee screeches of black metal. This, combined with the cleans, creates an utterly epic performance that is meant to impress even the pickiest people.

In the end, it’s safe to say that Vesperian Sorrow’s Awaken the Greylight is one of the “must listens” of 2024. This album left a rather strong impression on me, and I found myself coming back to multiple songs on it more than once. It is safe to say that the band has once again delivered an impressive record. 9.5/10 by Ioana

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