Warmoon Lord, Aethyrick & Vananidr – A Black Metal Mass Review
We’ve featured quite a lot of black metal this year. Some of it has been really good, some of it less so. Some of it experimental, much of it not really. Today we’ve got some of the very best, even if I do say so myself.
Warmoon Lord – Burning Banners of the Funereal War
With no prior demos or knowledge of origin, and a name & cover art like that, it was too easy to write off Warmoon Lord as another less-than-worthy bedroom project. But though one man project it may be, Vechi Vrajitor is not any one man. The mastermind behind rising dungeon synth star Old Sorcery, and synthwave project Megahammer and guitarist of Musta Risti, he’s gathered experience from a wide arrangement of styles before dipping his toes in black metal.
Burning Banner of the Funereal War may be the projects debut, but it’s a complete, thought out package. Only roughly half an hour in length, and with a short instrumental at both ends, BBotFW wastes little time, and contains no excess. Instantly making clear where it stands, among riff-lead second wave bands, not entirely unlike Vlad Tepes, whose song gave the project it’s title, or Satanic Warmaster – especially reminiscent of the latter in the way keyboard- and guitar-riffs are interlocked.
Fairly raw, but undeniably catchy black metal with little embellishing and tastefully arranged synths very much out of the 90’s is not a kind of black metal entirely uncommon on these nostalgia ridden days, when everyone is pretending that things were not only different, but also better back when, but Warmoon Lord manages to sound fresher than many, and brings in better songwriting than most.
3,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Not a name easily recognized by many, yet, Aethyrick has continued their secretive existence since 2016 releasing at first two demos to little applaud, or indeed attention, in 2017 before putting out their debut full-length, Praxis to considerably greater buzz, late last year – after the dissolution of Alghazanth. Their existence is secretive to the degree where it is not known which of the two members goes by Gall, and which by Exile, nor is it known which is responsible for what regarding their band activity.
Little birds, however, have a tendency to chirp, and eventually it reached my ears that one of the members would previously have been associated with the aforementioned Alghazanth – which, as previously documented, is one of my very favourite bands. I could hardly contain my excitement when I brought a copy of Praxis home, as buying it proved a highlight of the whole event. Not because the music’s so good – mind you, at this point I had not heard second of it, but because reading through the lyrics it became seemingly obvious that one of the members had to be none other than their Gorath Moonthorn* – very likely the single best extreme metal lyricist.**
Instead of forging onward with an entirely new musical direction, Aethyrick’s choice of vessel could be viewed as a continuation of the same central themes that governed Alghazanth, though the distiction between the two is clear enough. A melancholic affair, leaning heavily onto the atmospheric side of black metal, amply adorned with guitar melodies, and keyboards relegated to garnish the load-bearing walls. Despite the rueful nature of the record, neither faster tempos nor straightforward solutions are shunned, and the refinement over familiar elements raises Praxis from unsurprising but assertive, into something more remarkable.
The same can be said of most aspects of Praxis, from the individual performances on the instruments to the clear and separating, but faceless mix. A faint lack of daring novelty marks Aethyrick, as does the lack of any clear highlights, rendering Praxis a very pleasant record to lose yourself into, but not so memorable as to remain embedded outside experience. Aethyrick has all the pieces, and knows how to compile them, but the pieces themselves could use additional concern.
Besides being a more consistent effort, Praxis also shows further refinement over Solstice Cycle – which compiles the band’s two demos*** – so there would appear to be even more to be excited about in the future. In the meanwhile I will thoroughly enjoying the works at hand, especially the lyrical side of things — take “Protectress” for example, which describes the effort of finding and harvesting a needed plant for ritual purposes, at first heavily disguised in metaphor, but declaring it’s intentions more openly on the latter half. In a genre where even the greatest wordsmiths are often celebrated for their conceptual vigor and burning emotion, rather than lyrical prowess, Aethyrick is a change most welcome.
3,5/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell, jointly-ish
Though Vananidr is a new project, founded last year, it’s already released two full-lengths. Did I mention it’s a solo project? Not the most promising start for a review, that’s for sure. Despite that, the self-titled debut gets off for a fairly promising start with some rough and jagged riffs not entirely unlike Immortal, and song-titles like “Frostbitten Kingdom” hardly help dispel the image. As the album progresses, a more middling ace is revealed. Not a mediocre mind you, just middling in that Vananidr reaches for many a direction, but never quite commits to delivering on any particular front. Synths and choirs are used for additional atmospheric flourishes and often a more melodic section may break out, as the most apparent Immortal influence fades, other names like Dawn, “Rise” to take their place.
Both the style and the production are rough-ish but hardly primitive and while the vocals are appropriately tense, they hardly stand out either. Yet the riffs are pretty decent and there’s enough variation in- and between songs to carry the 40-minute length and the record is both pleasant and easy to listen to. A fairly promising debut from last year, now being re-released.
Unfortunately these promises weren’t truly banked on Road North. Over an hour in length, it lacks in the aggression and gloom of it’s predecessor, though at it’s best the melodic riffs are very much still there and the slightly more focused approach could’ve yielded greater results. The more audible and independent bass, and overall rougher mix could have made Road North even more pleasant to play than it’s predecessor, but it’s length becomes a detriment when there’s less variation between the songs, most of which are needlessly dragged on, and not even with top ideas, as though the best melodic riffs are as good as on the debut, they’re being surrounded with more fluff and filler than before. When it works, it works just as well, but it works less frequently and over a far larger length, irretrievably weaker than the debut.
Should Anders Eriksson, the projects sole member, give the third Vananidr album a little more time to simmer, it might be something great, for despite all grievances, I’ve enjoyed both albums quite a bit, and like the mix of conventional influences coming from so wide a range, it may yet make for an unconventional sound in the future.
3/5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell (jointly)
*I will eat six kilos of shit if it’s someone else
**And if you disagree you can eat six kilos of shit too
***If you’re strictly into digital, it might be worth investigating the demos’ prices as individual pieces rather than through Solstice Cycle