Saturnal Roundup: Vuohi, Sacrificium Carmen, Rodent Epoch
[Pretend I wrote some snappy, inviting sentence here]
Vuohi – Witchcraft Warfare
Closer to 20 years ago, Vuohi was found as something of a grindcore unit. But slowly, wishing to broaden their sound and influences, as well as lyrical topics they mutated towards a beefy black metal band, still carrying an influence from their older days, and mixing death and primal thrash to their concoction. This happened over a sleuth of demos and splits, and has finally culminated in their debut full-length, Witchcraft Warfare – of which a demo version was released on cassette some years back.
While the base of their sound is loud, filthy and violent form of primitive black metal, twisted and contorted constantly to avoid repetition and excessively rudimentary style. The songs flirt with a variety of influences, opener “The Rain” moves from industrial opening to a crawling riff with rumbling bass – that marks the majority of the record – and dissonant chords, while the title-track heavily features a blackened mood, blast beats, dual vocals and jarring riffs in smooth transitions, whereas “Pissing O.T.N.F” takes out the thrash. Mostly the songs stay on the shorter side, and the only five minute exceeder – “ZiT”, mercifully goes through twice as many riffs as the rest.
Constantly throughout the record, gloomy atmosphere tries to take hold, but always as it appears, Vuohi thrashes towards another riff, another mood and it never manages to grab a hold of the record, remaining a hint – especially working on the most blackened moments. Witchcraft Warfare is filthy fun that you shouldn’t miss if you dig riffs.
Pissed that I missed the chance to premiere this, and no one’s even at fault but me. Fuck.
Rodent Epoch – Rodentlord
Rodent Epoch’s closing in on their first decade under their current name, and after a couple of lukewarmly received demos and a few-years long release gap, they’re ready to try on the world with a full-length, Rodentlord. And if previously the band struggled to make a lasting impression, now they’ve considerably upped their game. Stylistically Rodent Epoch steps away from the usual class of Finnish black metal, instead looking towards filthier, more primitive waters. In direction, not completely unlike Vuohi, but in execution clearly apart. Their likewise bass-heavy and fluidly tempo changing trample owes more Under The Sign… -era Bathory than their grind and Teutonic thrash influenced counterpart, although, I feel later Darkthone would be the most accurate comparison.
Time and time again, Rodent Epoch keeps repeating the same riff over a little too much, combined with several less-than-stellar riffs gnaws on the albums effect. Especially prominent on the 8- and 10 -minute songs, “Red Heaven” and “Funeral Master”, twice the length of the others, the struggle to carry their length. The majority of the riffs, however, are good, only falling short of stellar because of their overt familiarity, and band’s songwriting is varied enough to carry their simple stylings with ease. Hardly a cult-classic in the making, Rodentlord is nevertheless an promising debut and an enjoyably old school, no-fucks-given black metal record.
Sacrificium Carmen – Hermetica
Sacrificium Carmen’s debut proved a decent working man’s black metal record. On paper everything seemed fine, the album sounded good enough and the songwriting had no greater faults, but in the longer run it fell flat and unexciting. A little too run-of-the-mill despite some good riffs. Fortunately, Hermetica takes a step or two forward in virtually every way, while retaining the sound now recognizable for themselves. The same amount of tracks, but roughly fifteen minutes more length means the average song-length has been pushed from four- to five-and-a-half minutes, but at no time does Hermetica feel elongated or dragging, only the near-nine-minute closer “Arvet & Henki” shows some signs of wear and tear. Much of this may be attributed to the band’s newfound tendency to introduce new riffs towards the end of the song, instead of building with the same motifs throughout. This is, unfortunately, also the albums weakness as most of the song leave their best for last, especially egregious are “Kaitselmuksen Tähti” and “Mysteerion Nietoksilla” that don’t even seem up to par until the sprouting their last, twisting riffs.
Sacrificium Carmen is not an atypical Finnish black metal band, in that their raw approach to black metal is abundantly melodic, to accompany their longer song lengths, they aren’t merely content on repeating same motifs over again, but build longer arcs as well, which makes Sacrificium Carmen more interesting than many of their counterparts. Where Ikuisen Tulen Kammiossa didn’t even promise too much, Hermetica is a genuinely exciting black metal record, that would further benefit from earlier introductions of (and returns to) their best riffs but presents a band with far more potential than it seemed possible from their earlier workings.