Review Summary: “Blood Ageless Fire Death”
So much of black metal is steeped in its own mythos. The aesthetics of its own history drive black metal forward while also holding it back. Born in the cold hinterlands, the genre’s identity is frostbitten—aligned with the frigid images of its birthplace and charred by its questionable past. But I’ve always imagined the course black metal may have taken was it associated with something else entirely, such as fire.
Vanum, whose reputation precedes them, make me wonder no longer. With Ageless Fire
, the band offers up a scalding suite of black metal tunes; the molten and billowing cover suiting the explosive content well. Featuring K. Morgan of Ash Borer fame (as well as M. Rekevics from Fell Voices), Ageless Fire
feels like a more immediate version of 2016’s disappointing The Irrepassable Gate
; sturdy and daunting but much more stimulating. Moreso than either bands’ output thus far, Vanum’s sophomore record feels at times like a melodic black metal homage. Reaching back to Blood FIre Death
-era Bathory, Vanum barrage listeners with anthemic tones and repetitive catharsis. “Eternity,” for example, spins simplistic riffs into a more complex tapestry of blast beats melodic reprieves. The callbacks are subtle, avoiding puerile hamfistedness. Vanum’s focus is always to look forward while nodding to the past.
Realm of Sacrifice
was a pleasant but forgettable use of two incredible talents. Ageless Fire
is the album Vanum needed to create. Dark, uncompromisingly heavy, and brilliantly combining the best of old school and modern black metal, it’s the work of a true rising force.