There are several sub-genres in metal which seem to have fallen out of fashion. There are still plenty of bands making music within them and sometimes even very successfully. However, they don’t really get reported on beyond the biggest names around, which seem to carry their own weight. Goth metal is one of these genres; there’s plenty of goth/doom metal being made, but none of it seems to capture the collective attention of the community enough to make it to press outlets. I’m glad to be here today with an exception to this rule: the debut EP of Varaha, a band from Chicago who play the sort of dark, brooding and expressive metal that made goth so important to the evolution of doom.
The EP itself leans on the usual doom-tinged melodies that make goth work but infuses it with more modern influences from post metal. These can be heard twice: once during the heavy, middle segments and the guitar tones of “Cubicle” and second on the bone-chilling third part of the track with its tremolo picked leads. The vocals during that last segment owe influences to Junius and the drums also invoke those giants of emotional post metal. Intriguingly enough, these post metal influences seem to blend perfectly with the more atmospheric and emotion laden elements of the track, perhaps hinting at a fertile route for exploration for future bands.
And why shouldn’t post metal and goth metal go hand in hand? They both focus on a dark vibe—a somber, muted and angry range of emotions. The other track on the album “It Takes a Ghost to Kill a Ghost” (conjoined with the first by the moody “La Mela”) drives the point home, with its more resplendent and unfolding riffs. It brings the EP to a close on such a strong note that we can only wish there was an entire album which follows it. For now, we’ll have to wait patiently and spin this promising EP a few more times, until Varaha deign to grace us with a full release.