In a musical genre as prolific and varied as black metal, there’s a vast amount of performers who know how to bring alive the strong, visceral emotions that denote the style. However, only occasionally you come across a record that’s so achingly gratifying in both sound and composition that you are stuck with the guilty feeling of having peered into something profoundly personal. Enter Vemod.
From the rocky crags and impenetrable forests of northern Norway comes the two-piece band that cautiously class themselves as “dark ethereal metal.” Having already released two demos and a split, the long-awaited Venter på stormene is Vemod’s first full-length album and it stands testament to the professionalism and creative insight generated by this duo of veteran musicians – J.E. Åsli (One Tail, One Head, Jammerskrik, Astral Winds) and E. Blix (Mare, Black Majesty, Celestial Bloodshed).
Vemod is not a typical black metal band (typical being nigh impossible to establish anyway). Infusing leathery riffs with bleak electronic ambience, it forms something familiar and yet vaguely indistinct. Their sound might recall bands like Coldworld, Nortt and Drudkh, but comparing Vemod with other acts smacks more of the standards of journalistic drudgery – the Vemodian sound is something to be experienced, not imagined.
It takes but a listen before the opening title track transports the listener beyond the bony interplay of battering percussion, rough-hewn guitars and cacodemonic vocals into a darker place. A place of wan pinewood and melancholy reflection, where cavernous halls born from Elysian chants, ice-crusted chimes and coruscating ambience offer glimpses of insight into the troubles of the human soul.
The album tells a tale which is inherently occupied with the metaphysical aspects of man. The detailed, almost Griegian declaration of the soundscape elegantly divides the four-track release into two distinct parts. The first half encompasses a more primal, conflicting sound diffused by the near-constant pulse of elegant riffs, snaking drums and antediluvian echoes which helps underpin a sense of vulgar and physical savagery. The second track, ‘Ikledd evighetens kappe’, comes bearing down upon you with the raw, physical vigour of its thick and shimmering chords until it shatters; loosening up to a progressive bridge of the pure and untrimmed pluck of acoustics, before recklessly throwing itself back into the veiled abyss.
The dramatic yet seamless shift from the ponderous to ethereal heralds the conditions found in the second half. Third track ‘Altets temple’ reveals a fierce juxtaposition where glittering chimes and graceful organs carry the melodies to measureless heights during its 13 minutes of ghostlike, trance-inducing zeal. The Vemodian chapter closes with the conjuration of a simple romantic melody forwarded by the steady grind of double bass, sinuous hammering of cymbals and snares coupled with monotonous picking of guitar. It’s a natural sound, almost faunian – and as the faun starts reveling upon his oaken throne, the tone balks, shifts and mutates into a sensuous, glittering constellation of spacious harmony. With this release Vemod proves that it has flourished with their original study of genres, sounds and themes. Those with a penchant for atmospheric black metal owe it to themselves to give Vemod a listen. Get your copy from Terratur Possessions. Listen here.