- The Purging Fires 06:21
- Tyranny of Demiurge 04:45
- Last Light 05:46
- Interlude (Entranced in Abyssal Deliverance) 02:46
- Atavist Legion 05:51
- Vow of Dominion 06:47
It’s another cold and grim Monday, (just the way I like it may I add) As I shuffle through the rooms of my dusty abode. My heavy robes kept me comfortably warm. I’m preparing for another review. With my Black coffee in hand and cigarette in another I wonder at my Ornate wooden writing slope. As I scrabble around for a fresh piece of parchment and top up my ink well. I sit and gaze at the candles flickering around me. Their soft yet dim light enriches the atmosphere, it would appear that only one more thing could enhance this more. That would be some music. As I pull out my cassette Walkman and detangle the wires of my headphones I wonder what it is I’ll be reviewing.
The horde of cassettes that litter the shelves around me is mounting up. However, one, in particular, in particular, has caught my Skull socket. As I remove it, blow the dust and cobwebs from the case and place the aforementioned cassette into my player. Today’s offering comes from Ara Subversor and their soon-to-be-re-released sophomore album Vow Of Dominion. As I scroll through my metal Archives I notice the date MMXXII whether this was an early issue or the date of recording I’m unsure. Either way, I’ve managed to get my grubby little skeletal hands on a copy. As I look for any further information it decides to allude me. Nothing, zip, nada.
It would appear that the label legends at Death Prayer have managed to scoop another illusive, and brutal band. These entities or even entity hail from the U.S.A. I wish I could tell you more. However, that’s where I feel the music can do the real talking. So as my finger hits play I prepare myself to strap in, make notes and conduct my review on this behemoth of a band.
The first track “The Purging Fires” opens with a colossal deep riff and growl. The drumming slow and doom-like in the opening seconds soon twist into a hell-worthy battery of the skins with a great drum roll, followed by launching into the blast beats. The lead guitars fill the air with their tremolo-picked sections. These tremolo-picked riffs aren’t your usual piercing frosty notes, they are played on a much more tonal level almost warm and rich in sound. The vocals of the lead entity are both deep and gravely in tone a definite change to the usual shrieks and screams we are so commonly accustomed to. I feel these are very reminiscent in style of one of my fave Technical Deathened Black Metal bands Arkhon Infaustus. They are almost death metal in style while the music that backs them is slightly colder than that of A.I. you can hear the influence in the heavy drumming and rhythm guitar tone in the slower sections, and in the midsection of the track we are treated to a more melodic style of blackened death metal. This however is a great fill on the track as it comes to a grinding doom-infused outro. The heavy pounding of the drums and the riffs climb as the track comes to a stunning crescendo of sound and those beautiful tonal tremolo-picked parts fade into the background.
Track two “Tyranny of Demiurge” is a slower affair with pounding rhythmical drumming in the opening segments and however opens up slightly in pace in the first verse. Keeping a moderate pace to this track, the guitar sections throughout are heavily riff-based and manage to create such a deep and imposing style to them. This is a tremendous style Ara Subversor has managed to pave for themselves. I know some feel that the two genres should never infuse but on this album so far my thoughts are that this has managed to capture so much. Again the Vocals while throaty and death metal in vain, work so well, it’s almost like the vocalist has combined styles of Mortuus from Marduk and frontman DK Deviant of Arkhon Infaustus thus creating a much more guttural yet slightly rasping quality. So far I’m immersed in its sound and we’re only on track two.
Track Three “Last Light” is a massive treat. The sound of synths and ambience being backed by very muted guitar work creates a serene yet brooding opening to it. As the track climbs in sound, the guitars break through those lighter elements of the synth almost portraying the threat of a storm breaking up a beautiful blue sky. The heavier section is the threat of rain, thunder and lightning. The use of melding the two together is a definite surprise.
As I sit here my brain picking elements and instruments out, it sounds like they left almost piano, and synth elements lying underneath their guitar riffs. The last time I heard this style of musicianship was on Iggy And The Stooges “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and while I flick between both the songs it’s quite a surprise to hear just how similar these are in riff style, vocal structure and drumming. Whilst adding a more technical and heavier influence to this already heavy track it’s easy to see that the punk/ rock n roll sound of Iggy And The Stooges transfers into such a heavy deathened black metal track.
Track four “Interlude” (“Entranced in Abyssal Deliverance“) starts with a bell tolling and howling winds. This is the start of a beautiful sombre and slow atmospheric ambient piece. This piece harks back to a track by Ulver titled “Not Saved” style synth/ dark wave music. This dark and twisted synth and mellotron sound composed makes for the eeriest sound created. The layers are beautifully interwoven creating a horror-style landscape.
Track five “Atavist Legion” returns us right back to the crushing sounds of Ara Subversor. The technical blackened death metal sound that has filled my skull since the opening tracks. The riffs are once again threatening and impending in their sound. There is some definite drop D tuning in the guitar sound and the drums with their unbelievable pounding just thicken and intensify the overall sound. The track progresses and the band use a layering effect of the guitars with pitched harmonics and chunky riffs, this creates a suffocating wall of sound and the thickness of the tones feels like you are slowly being sucked in. As the song comes to an end we have been treated to death like a march from both the guitars and drums closing this amazing oppressive track.
Track six “Vow Of Dominion” sees us back at taking a much slower approach to the intro. These have all been great lures into an almost false sense of security. As the rhythm guitars slowly creep up behind and bring forth the classic black metal riff. The track gathers momentum quickly here after and hits just as hard as any of the predeceasing tracks. The midsection allows for a real face-melting riff fest from both the lead and the rhythm section. Again I feel like the synth/ piano section is back like in the track “Last Light” this I feel brings the album somewhat full circle. As the track closes on a heroic and huge wave of sound, the riffs and drums battle it out for who will have the last notes played.
As I lean back on my chair and inhale hard on my cigarette I breathe out the smoke with a satisfying yet almost shaken look upon my barely expressionless skull as to what has truly occurred upon this album. It’s interesting to see once again how the proto-punk element has managed to creep its way into even this level of deathened black metal. This topped off with fusing the likes of Arkhon Infaustus and Ulver to name just some of the names I’ve already pre-mentioned has probably been the biggest surprise of all. I know that the Norwegian scene managed to transpose over to the states fairly well. However, with A.I being a French band I didn’t know if this would’ve gone over to the U.S. Still here we are and my reaction to this has been well-received.
I’ve loved every track and the midsection interlude particularly added the true icing upon this very seductive cake of an album. It’s not often that blackened death metal ends up coming my way, which makes it a refreshing change when it does. To look at this album and base it solely off the cover you’d be hard-pressed to miss labelling it as some real pure raw black metal, whilst it does have those touching elements to it the overall feel is more towards the technical blackened death metal. The production is so crisp, yet the atmosphere the band creates with their riffs and beats is so thick and suffocating. The drumming on this album is hard and heavy and this just matches the riffs to a tee, even when the lead parts, while few take over the album, doesn’t lose its flow or feel.
This album is direct, hard and in your face. If your looking for an album to get caught up in the fury of it all, the atmosphere and the sound. Look no further. So, as I Snuff out what candles I have left in my darkened cave I roll up my parchment and cap my ink for the night. I feel an overwhelming sense of warmth and I feel that Ara Subversor contributed to it.
Hails #Foras #Lordoftheshadows
Vow of Dominion is out now