Review Summary: tree bones, deep mists, still water -- songs of the Vvilderness.
Modern day metal enthusiasts have certainly become a jaded bunch over the course of the last few decades. Think about it; our access to music these days is often separated by a matter keystrokes, a click of a mouse or a finger on a screen over populating our [mostly] digital libraries, played once (if at all) before repeating this all too easy cycle again and again. It’s this access that’s both benefitted and plagued the tastes of listeners; excellent releases have become a dime a dozen, poor albums are on almost every Bandcamp page and in that regard truly classic records are considerably rarer. Personally, I’m guilty of over-indulging in my access to new music, adding various records to my “will listen later” playlists only to find myself occasionally
fulfilling this greedy lust for new tracks, not unlike a drunkard searching for that last dusty bottle hidden in the back of a cupboard. Despite this self-aware addiction to cramming as much new music as possible, I see no reason to change my behaviour, or indulge in a particular vice unless it’s quality strictly demands repeated listens. Even in this weird, self-serving epiphany of sorts I realise that I wouldn’t have found most of my favourite records without this mindset and certainly not the likes of (Hungarian based) Vvilderness’ Dark Waters
For those new to Vvilderness brand, Dark Waters
is rooted in the realms of black metal with natural landscapes and heritage in tow; similarly to that of Can Bardd, Elderwind, Saor and to a lesser extent, Moonsorrow. The music itself is highly atmospheric, building its soundscapes with its surrounds on full display, lush brush strokes painting with abandon of free will. The titular track that opens Vvilderness’ 2020 record, epitomises the very framework of this genre in recent years; soft acoustic melodies building slowly into light hypnotic melodies, before ejaculating blast beats and other expectable black metal nuance. The album’s lighter moments contrast heavily with the stereotypical black metal wall of noise that erupts, often out of the blue. For all the trappings atmospheric black metal can often give a listener, the band’s near Pagan-leanings (and female vocal led verses) add to the contrast between climax and instrumental cooldown, prompting life into the Dark Waters
Admittedly, there isn’t a great deal setting this little Hungarian act apart from the likes of those mentioned above, but there is
an honesty that helps launch Dark Waters
into the year’s earlier black metal highlights. Based on Szekely folk, the likes of “Danu’s Tears” and “It Comes With Rain” revel in these near-Appalachian soundscapes, unhindered by an overly polished production or glorified additions of traditional instrumentation. But it’s “Havasok / Snowy Mountains” that brings the album together. A carrying bag-piped melody sits in the background of haunting tremolo and cutting riffs, held together by ritualistic atmosphere and black metal furor before breaking off into sensual, relaxing climes... before launching once again into a world of rasps, blast beats and other typical black metal mannerisms.
Vvilderness’ latest offering isn’t without its missteps however; namely in its production and pondering repetition offered at every turn. A lot of the album is mixed too high, giving the listener a huge wall of sound that loses some of its body, but it’s the album’s overly ‘too similar’ in design that lacks enough real climaxes to hide the soft and often acoustic fall backs from the harsh icy noise of black metal’s greater tropes. Some little variation on this formula and some compositional focus would see Vvilderness cut from the same cloth as the acts mentioned above. As a whole, Dark Waters
is a more than capable release held back by some manner of small issues, but a more than worthy addition to any fan looking to satiate a need for folk-y, melancholic and honest black metal.