In a period replete with an incredible number of black metal permutations, your soul often yearns for something raw and basic that lies at the heart of the genre. While there are plenty of bands out there who have released albums in that vein (think Orm or Imperium Dekadenz), it’s hard to get enough of good, black hearted or epic black metal. That list checkbox stands to be filled by Vaivatar, a Finnish band which creates a symphonic brand of black metal steeped in the influences of the second and third wave of the genre. Head on down below for hands lifted to the sky, screeches piercing forested landscapes and the distant sounds of glaciers crashing.
“Hekabe”, and the following track, “Maria”, immediately showcase one of the main sounds of Vanitas, released on November 2nd. This is the position and tone employed by the keys on this album. Rather than mainly going for the processed and cheesy synth tones (created via MIDI layers or other production manipulations) of bands like Dimmu Borgir, Vaivatar mostly sidestepped modern sensibilities and returned to the source. That source is, of course, church organs and the overbearing sound of their blaring approach. While more “modern” sounding synths are present on the album, these are drowned in the massive organ tone used widely throughout it. Merging these with blazingly acerbic vocals, thick guitar tones and punctual drumming, Vaivatar create the kind of black metal which paints only in an incredibly broad brush.
Listen, for example, to the massive choirs parts which dominate the middle and ending of “Maria”. The combined effect of their shimmering delivery and the bristling blast-beasts create an atmosphere of oppression and grandeur not often outside of black metal. This is what the genre was created before, impassioned intonations, larger than life defiance, inhuman aggression. Vanitas channels all of these ideas to create an addictive and accomplished take on black metal, remaining interesting and engaging while eschewing a lot of the ballast and chaff of the now-prominent avantgarde or progressive take on black metal. In short, Vanitas is damn heavy and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for it. Which is a good thing when pulled off so well.