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Ande – Vehemence

Ande
Vehemence
by Oli Gonzalez at 20 June 2022, 5:09 AM

From the depths of Belgium, today we have ANDE, a black metal project for whom the sole member describes as “a personal way to honour black metal that was, is and will be”. I won’t lie, that concerns me a little. I’ve seen multiple solo black metal projects, so much so that it’s almost becoming a cliché now. “To honour black metal that was”. Does mean I’m going to see something new, bold and original, or something that’s just been shoved through the KVLT cookie cutter like a factory mold?

I realise this is an extremely negative start to the review, but this honestly reflects my opinions on this sort of project. I note how ANDE is now on its 6th release, including the subject of today’s review “Vehemence”. The fact that this project has been in operation since 2015 tells me that it wasn’t just a pandemic boredom project, but rather a passion piece created in a time long before the world knew what ‘social distancing’ meant. I’m wondering what sort of black metal we’ll hear on this album. An early 90s Norwegian style, more modern blackened death, or slower doomier atmospheric? I should imagine more towards the older more traditional style. Let’s get into it.

“Coherence”  made me feel tense and uncomfortable during the opening but in the best possible way. Like watching a horror movie, ANDE knows how to build suspense and to build that atmospheric vibe. There’s sprinklings of blast beats and speed here and there, which is certainly appreciated. Mostly however, the song is dominated by a slow and bludgeoning pace. There’s definitely lots of tempo changes and sections with different patterns crammed not this 12 minute monologue. However, all of it feels natural and carefully thought out. 6 minutes have passed and I didn’t even realise. I’ll be honest, I was completely wrong to write this album off. This is good!

In a similar mode, there is no obvious structure to “Reverberations” with multiple ideas spanning across this song. I’m drawn to the production values. There’s definitely this raw traditional feel. However, I see evidence of more modern production techniques, with the rarely heard low end being salient, and everything else being well mixed and balanced. Honestly, I didn’t want the song to end when it did! That means I’ll have to turn to the next. The speed and intensity is increased for “Dillgence”. This is definitely the fastest and most hard hitting song so far, much in the style of an older DARK FUNERAL number! Again, I’m thoroughly impressed with the production values, a far cry from the recordings that sound like a mic was just shoved in the middle of the rehearsal room. Ande has definitely done his homework here. Does the song run on slightly too long though? In my opinion, yes, slightly.

Now “Projection” was very much unexpected. This instrumental has a seemingly much more upbeat and positive vibe, with a clever and subtle use of synth tracks to give that experimental edge. This was a welcome break from the intensity and darkness of the previous song. However, I’m panicking now wondering just what merciless horrors await me in the next track. “Density” really is as dark and intense as the name would have you believe. A stark contrast to the calmness we had witnessed previously. I particularly enjoyed the doomier, groovier passage at around the 4:30 mark. Again, demonstrating ANDE has more than one tool in his arsenal. Speaking of grooves, “Cycles” had me headbanging along and doing some air drumming, especially with my imaginary double kick pedal that lives below my office desk. That’s at least in the early parts. The latter stages of the song progress into a more ambient and melodic passage where emotion and feel reigns over needless complexity. Once again, the subtle use of synths in the background enhances this ambient experience.

The album ends with “Luminosity”. Another slower instrumental passage, this time with a new age vibe. It feels almost like a requiem, a time for reflection, a debrief from the utter chaos we’ve just witnessed. That sums up the album for me really. Ande evidently has thought very carefully about his song placement. It’s almost as though he understands the psychology of the listener and knows what they’re expecting to hear and what they need in that moment. Too many black metal artists think it’s ok to just write songs with just blast beats and KVLT screams. ANDES has seamlessly incorporated elements from many corners of music, not just black metal. At the start of the review, I was predicting this would be a generic old school black metal album. How wrong I was! Ande, if you’re reading this, I apologise for pre-judging you.

For the next album, I would like to see more clarity and diction in the vocals, as it’s very difficult to understand what he’s saying. As the album is described as telling the story of “ the individual that goes through life dealing with emotions and surroundings”, it’s hard to feel that when you can’t become invested in the lyrics. Also, maybe just trim some of the songs down slightly, then you’ll be polishing off what could be a gleaming diamond.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Coherence
2. Reverberations
3. Diligence
4. Projection
5. Density
6. Cycles
7. Luminosity
Lineup:
Ande – All Instruments and Vocals
Record Label: Naturmacht Productions
     


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