Vemod – Venter på stormene

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.

Currently residing on the stark plains of Alberta. Rattling among wolf willow and mixedgrass I pen for LURKER and work as a heritage consultant.

13 Comments

  • Reply January 10, 2013

    JN

    Solid release. Reminds me a bit of Bergtatt-era Ulver and Orrery. Glad to see Norway’s still cranking out quality music.

  • Reply January 11, 2013

    Zam

    The drums could’ve been a tad higher in the mix, but other than that this sounds like a pretty good release.

  • Reply January 11, 2013

    bleebs

    That Black Majesty 7″ (Seventh King of Edom, 2009) is probably the best metal 7″ I own.

    • Reply March 15, 2013

      ANJE

      Yes, that 7″ from Black Majesty is one of my favourite releases from the latest years. A real great piece of black art…

  • […] first heard about Vemod from the delightful curmudgeons at Lurker, and, after ignoring them for awhile, finally hit up their Bandcamp to see what Sebastian & Co. […]

  • Reply February 15, 2013

    Nick G

    Great review.

    I was incredible fortunate to see this band live at NBM, and against my expectations (especially following the barbarity of Black Witchery), they took my breath away. I’d been looking forward to it, but I hadn’t expected it to be delivered with such force and vitality, and the performance has given me a new appreciation for the recorded material – a rare feat.

    The Nidrosian “scene” is delivering a new wave of excellent Norwegian black metal that builds upon the work of their forefathers but is showing the signs of taking it to a new level. For that, we can be truly grateful.

  • Reply March 2, 2013

    Anje

    Vemod makes great atmospheric black metal but.. But if the same exact band with the same exact music came from another country or did not receive so many propaganda, it would be seen just as another atmospheric black metal band. There would be no in-depth “poetic” reviews or praise, nature majestic – evoking comments. Many things made it work this way because of the fueled Trondheim black metal machine that push them forwards and a solid propaganda basis. There are a lot of good bands of this genre… Vemod is no better neither worse than many bands around. Its equally good. Kind regards to Vemod and other good atmospheric black metal creators worldwide. With respect.

    • Reply March 3, 2013

      Pavel

      Anje, this is a reasonable point you make, and something I’ve wondered about myself. If it came from the US, for instance, would I dismiss it offhand as more “Cascadian BM” bullshit? I dunno. And I agree that some of the praise has to do with their position in a regional Circle that is gaining increasing cache, but such has it ever been… Hence the old bias against Swedish and Finnish BM in favor of Norse, etc. Though now, I think, Norse BM actually LACKS that prestige it used to have. If anything, Trondheim is bringing it back.

      There’s also the matter of this band having a finely fleshed-out concept, which they’ve realized not just through the music, but through a distinct and fascinating aesthetic. I’d say this is one of those bands, like Death In June, where the album art, band imagery, and merch are just as important to the overall art-work as the music itself. And finally, I’d add that I think Vemod has an intensity and purity that is lacking in much atmospheric BM, where people have become more interested in showcasing their indie rock influences than evoking lost worlds and fell magick.

      • Reply March 3, 2013

        Nick G

        I’d agree with all of that. There’s a certain purity to their sound; an authenticity in the riffs, songsmanship and production. It feels very much like a logical next step from Burzum, for me.

        • Reply March 3, 2013

          Pavel

          Cheers man. I hear what you mean, about it being one possible direction from Burzum. Sort of a new take on it, seeing as the Burzumic bands from Eastern Europe generally sound *like* Burzum in some way, whereas here the riffwriting is very different. Simpler, more like pre-Burzum Norse BM.

  • Reply March 24, 2013

    ANJE

    Also, the ideia of background image projections in live concerts is not a new thing neither a idea from this band, some bands had used it already. If its a good idea, and fits the atmosphere, and music? Well, of course it is.

    • Reply March 27, 2013

      Marco

      Vemod done a great work and presentation. But you’re right ANJE, the image projections isnt a new idea. Its a good idea still, but not new. I myself seen a black metal concert with image projections in 2004, or 2005 i think, and i knew people that had it planned long ago, with images projections. But it requires time, money, planning, equipment. Something that in a southern countries is more hard to get and plan, well, possible, but much more difficult to make it happen, and in the rich countries have a lot of material support and it is more likely to bring to life.

  • Reply April 25, 2014

    Thomas O' Donnell

    I’ve seen them live and bought their impressive work and dig deep in. Such sophistication and in-depth aproach needs laid-back life and time to do so, so Vemod would be literaly impossible in a poorer or critical environment as you said above. No matter how much will to create E. Blix and J.Asli have or how talented they are. It is their welfare state that allows them to do this: from the artwork, to the concept, and to the “making it real”.

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