Friday, October 18, 2013

Vallendusk : "Black Clouds Gathering"

This black metal band from Indonesia formed in 2011, so this is their first full length after releasing a song e.p., when it came out I was reluctant as to how authentic indonesian black metal might, but and even after listening to this album a few times I'm not sure if I can still give an answer. It is rather cascadian, almost entering into that more ambient and droningly beautiful that it is feral .  Most of the time I float away during "Fragments of Light" so I normally don't give this a longer listen than the third track, but today that will change for this blog shall anchor me to my head phones and I'll document the journey.

I can see where the Agalloch comparison's that I have heard thrown around come from. I think they use melody well, though unlike Agalloch they don't flip the switch melodically with the vocals . Their songs are more complex in their arrangements than the more cvlt minded black metal bands , but by no means give a nod to progressive rock like Agalloch do. What is being called the folk elements in regard to this band are passages of acoustic guitar which crop up three minutes into the second song. Not really busting out lutes  and summoning the Leprechaun's to jig.

While the drumming is excellent, They do still fall prey to over blasting things and numbing out the dynamics . Before  gets to be like jack hammer sex, they ease off for a minute on " Shades of Grey" and drop into more of a waltz time signature. For the most part the songs blow by like a howling wind in the background, the picking on "Into the Mist" doesn't seem to be much different than the song before until the get to the accents a minute and a half into it. That is until a really progressive break down three and a half minutes in where the bass gets angular, that was not expected and it's these sort of nuances that don't have me running to get this off my iPod any time soon.

I do think the blasting is the easy way out for these guys as they have the talent and melodic know how to do more with their playing and the give you frequent tastes of that fact. Sure the riff to "Among the Giants" is epic enough, but the motto around here is good riffs alone don't make good songs. Still this is their first full length so maybe they just need the time to grow as songwriters, when you have a 9 minute song that is operating on variation of your epic riff melody it's like trying to hold a conversation with a coke head. There's an art to it that Deafheaven has perfected and it relies on more dynamics, to keep the sonic ebb and flow, that these guys do catch on to this art on the 13 minute "Land of the Lurking Twilight" that closes the album, so they are more than capable.

The riff's get slightly catchier on "Realms of the Elder" and drop into strummed clean guitars, which sound more post-rock to me than folk, as I don't feel any Stonehenge to it. I like the effects on the vocals here as they come up higher in the mix to wet the otherwise dry mid range rasp, typical of bands like Windir.  The accents to the galloping punches amid the flurry of blast beats , helps make this song more discernible. The big finish with their 13 minute song, is time well spent and captures a broad sense of dynamics. So overall I like the feel of this album, even when it lulls me into the hypnotic dron of its blistering sonics, so I will give it an 8.5, as their is potential here I feel like is only skimming the surface, they are off to a good start and when they learn the restraint that comes with restraint I think their next album could be flawless, but time will tell.

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