Vindensang
Alpha


3.7
great

Review

by Kyle Ward STAFF
March 3rd, 2014 | 16 replies | 2,077 views


Release Date: 02/04/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A mountain of excellent songwriting and palpable atmosphere that has trouble locating its own peak

Vindensång have already proven their ability to craft deft compositions that move with an almost aquatic fluidity, and with Alpha Vindensång’s mastermind Jeff Neblock set out to continue the cycle of death and rebirth featured on the band’s brilliant debut Terminus: Rebirth In Eight Parts. The prominence of atmosphere above all else is immediately apparent on Alpha yet also quite fitting given the blend of ambient, folk, and a slight hint of black metal that the band has carried over from their previous LP. The sound isn’t completely transposed, because the attitude of Alpha is a bit more subdued than before; not quite as violent while at the same time sucking huge amounts of movement from soundscapes that on the surface are quite barren, but underneath are full of life. It’s not unlike the dark oceanic visions the album constantly conjures, whether through its album art, song titles, lyrics, or even the music itself.

Alpha is a grand stage containing several poignant set pieces that, while all part of and contributing to the same play, are distinctly individual in nature. This is perhaps the largest difference between Terminus… and Alpha: the fact that the songs are capable of driving themselves individually rather than relying on the other tracks for context. That’s not to say that the songs feel detached, it’s just that they are written in a way that makes each one contribute its own story which, by the time “Water-Bearer” fades away, hopes to become a formidable epic. The album builds itself off these blocks, and indeed a large part of the appeal of the record is in the fact that it is constantly building towards a final crescendo; a place where everything peaks and then collapses. The obvious point where this would occur would be the 19-minute goliath “Within the Womb of Creation”, but it is herein where the album reveals its Achilles heel. Whereas Terminus… unleashed an hour’s worth of mounting dread in the mass of twisting guitar melodies and desperate black metal rasps of “The Origin: The Point of Return”, no such defining moment manifests anywhere on Alpha.

Instead of a single, world-eating tidal wave, we have heavy surf that occasionally lets go of a large wave, but one without a long-lasting impact. “Into the Formless Void” and “Lights of the Abyss” each let dissonant ambiance evolve into simple drum beats and fleeting, whispered voices before finally cresting into more traditional black metal intensity. While it is all undoubtedly enjoyable - even brilliant at times - it fractures the momentum of the album so that it only builds for a track or two before being exhausted. Granted, what is built certainly has a mountain of potential energy that is virtually palpable in the album’s masterful atmosphere, but the kinetic result of all of this energy being released is not as immense as its careful construction would lead you to believe. “One Thousand Fathoms” is a dark ambient wonder due its simplicity and slicing effectiveness, with a single ominous melody being transformed into a brooding mantra by thunderous percussion and echoing keys, yet all that it achieves is forgotten not long after the song fades away. It seems that the decision to construct songs that have their own voice may have been carried a bit too far, because by the end of the album Alpha seems to forget what some of those voices were saying.

Regardless, Vindensång have released another dark ambient album that should be essential listening if you enjoy the genre, especially if you are also a black metal fan. The soothing tones of “Water-Bearer” counter the dread within “One Thousand Fathoms”, and the dynamics of tracks like “Within the Womb of Creation” create a tale within a tale through numerous buildups and instrumental shifts. The success of Alpha in conveying a very specific mood and then evolving that mood through its course is worth mentioning time and again, but the album fails to become that formidable epic it so desperately wanted to be. This is simply because there is no single place where the album finds its identity; where listeners turn to when they are asked to describe Alpha by pointing out one single defining moment. It is instead a series of waves, effortlessly pushing toward the shore but never crashing into the sand in unison, instead making landfall in small ripples interspersed by the occasional crashing swell.




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user ratings (11)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2014



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

It's for albums like this that I wish we weren't required to give numerical ratings.

A very tough album to review, hence a lot of metaphor, but there is so much to love here yet my main
criticism is quite a big one in the grand scope of an album like this one.

Listen to the soundcloud track in the review if you want to know what this album is like, as it sums
it up very, very well.

Digging: Tiamat - Wildhoney

Monsieur
March 3rd 2014



78 Comments


I like the sound of this... Should I start at Terminus, though, or it doesn't matter?

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2014



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Doesn't really matter. Terminus is better as a whole album, this has better individual songs. Only exception being that "The Origin" from Terminus is this band's best track by far.

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2014



5610 Comments


It's for albums like this that I wish we weren't required to give numerical ratings

rocking.gr in Greece doesn't use numerical ratings, all that's available to the readership is the review text.

Digging: Mekong Delta - In A Mirror Darkly

Jruined
March 3rd 2014



1254 Comments


Good deal. Sounds good and you haven't lead me wrong so far. On it.

Wizard
March 3rd 2014



18747 Comments


That soundcloud track was kind of pooey! Good review though, not my thing I guess. Gonna go crank Morbus Chron.

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 3rd 2014



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yeah I wouldn't expect you to like this haha

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 4th 2014



6733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

How did I miss this review?

CaptainDooRight
March 4th 2014



26289 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^it was just posted, how could you have missed it

anywho, nice to see a review for this

Digging: Deniro Farrar - The Patriarch II

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 4th 2014



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

10 comments woohoo!

Amebix
March 4th 2014



157 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice review and I like this more than Terminus.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
March 5th 2014



6733 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not loving this as much as I probably should

BigSimo
March 6th 2014



155 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Crysis are you suggesting that this album doesn't have a definitive peak? Because I strongly feel that the final three minutes of 'Within the Womb of Creation' are exactly that. Everything about those three minutes is the 'biggest' part of the album, and for me undoubtedly a worthy peak.

Crysis
Staff Reviewer
March 6th 2014



15977 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

Yes that's exactly what I'm saying. The final minutes of "Within the Womb" are more of a summation of the preceding minutes of that track and that one alone. I feel it doesn't serve as a proper crescendo for the album as a whole.

Keyblade
March 7th 2014



13243 Comments


Great to see you review this Kyle. Dude needs more attention

Metalstyles
Staff Reviewer
March 7th 2014



8221 Comments


Very nice review my man, digging the whole ocean imagery. I may or may not look into this, depending on my moods. I was almost sold after the first paragraph (I do look at ratings, but I don't let them be the deciding factor), but then you went on and ruined it haha.

Digging: Metsatoll - Karjajuht



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