Review: Voragine of Autumn – A P H E L I O N
How to lose your way in style.
You don your coat and step outside into the frigid air of a late autumn day. Despite the sun, the dry cold stings in your nostrils and soon numbs your skin. The feeling is invigorating, and you set off at a brisk pace, your breath a trail of little clouds behind you, feeling jolted out of a funk you hardly realized you’d sunken into in your stuffy flat. With seemingly fresh eyes, you take in the colourful ways in which nature lays bare its mortality even in the face of the sun, and your mind moves into a calm pensiveness. Thoughts of the cold are almost forgotten as you delve in wistful reveries.
That’s the experience – in a fancy nutshell – of listening to Chile’s Voragine of Autumn. Broadly speaking, songs storm out of the gate with an icy cold black metal assault, and usually, that is also the harbor they return to. The closest comparison I can come up with for these ferocious parts is probably the sound of Wildernessking. The singer, in particular, reminds me of them, but so does the sharp, clear sound of the guitars which, much like the cold of impending winter, always manages to bring you back to the here and now. Why do you need to be brought back? Well, that’s where that calm pensiveness comes into play.
Sooner or later, the songs on this album start to shift – subtly, almost imperceptibly if you’re not paying attention, much as one accommodates to the cold – away from black metal and into prog-heavy post-rock explorations. These can be brief moments of quiet or, more often than not, extended meanderings that go so far afield that you may well forget you’re listening to a black metal record. These sections do a great job of putting you in a calm, introspective state of mind without ever eliciting a yawn, and what’s more, without devolving into wank-fests. They’re not there solely to show off the musicians’ skills, but to serve in building the album’s mood. To this end, Voragine of Autumn refrain from hiding behind excessive distortion or reverb; the aforementioned sharpness is present throughout, making sure we see the picture clearly.
And do we see it clearly? I, for one, struggle a little bit; my thoughts are prone to stray at the best of times, so it’s never long before I mentally wander off. “Decay” gives me the least problems in this regard, as it frequently comes back to its main riff as a sort of anchor, but apart from that, I have to frequently reel myself back in. I can’t quite tell if this is just me or if the band could do with some focus. Would shorter compositions or favouring one aspect of the music over the other help or completely ruin the concept? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Regardless, I can’t deny that coming back to this album is always fun and that, especially for a debut album, there’s an impressive amount of skill on display here. Final verdict: