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VAK - Loud Wind Award winner

Loud Wind
by Chris Hawkins at 17 September 2019, 5:27 AM

Evidently, there are two European bands named VAK, a fact which may cause some confusion out there.  It certainly had this writer scratching his head thinking, “wait, there’s another VAK?!?”  Yes, there is.  The VAK this review is covering is a five-piece band native to Stockholm, Sweden (the other is French) and signed to Indie Recordings for its second full-length entitled “Loud Wind”.  Genre terms are a dime a dozen these days, and it seems there is a new one every week.  VAK transcend what is easily categorizable, and that is certainly to the band’s benefit.

Though it is not the easiest of tasks to clearly assign a label to the band’s sound, they do have a recognizable vision that is all their own.  Functioning as an organic machine, each part adds to the benefit of the whole.  With a monstrously huge guitar tone, the sound is one that is three dimensional.  It exists as a behemoth fed on the fury of the ensemble creating it.  The band cleverly and prodigiously uses dynamics to cause both their songs and the album as a whole to flow seamlessly and truly pull in the listener.

There are indeed elements of the band’s influences that can be heard on the recording.  These references are just that, though, a point of reference.  In many ways, the band comes off like a more Prog-oriented version of classic KYUSS.  In other moments, one gets the impression of a more focused SLEEP.  One can even hear some reminiscences of JANE’S ADDICTION particularly in the silky rasp of the vocalist and his phrasing.  In reality, VAK is its own unique breed, one that has hints of the past but is focused solely on the future.

The title track starts things out with a spiraling, hypnotic bass line.  Immediately, as a bass player, I was sucked in.  this was due less to the technical proficiency displayed but more to the ethereal vibe created by the soulful notes on the four string.  The song turns out to be a loud explosion of sound that juggles quieter moments as well.  Again, the use of dynamics is integrally judicious.  “Melting Eyes,” the following track, is more experimental as the riffs become more angular and noisier.  The latter interlude is truly unique sounding with its out of the box juggling.

As the album progresses, excitement increases.  When interviewing bands, I always like to ask if the band ever jams.  Having played in many bands over the years, I always look fondly back on the few times in which I played in bands that would jam and carve songs out of the results.  Listening to the third track, “Birds of Earth,” it sounds like VAK is a band that likes to jam as the music flows with such a natural, live feel.  The song comes alive gradually with a grand finale in which the guitar and bass symbiotically enhance the loudness and heaviness of each other.  “Defenceless” follows and like a spiritual mantra, there is a heavy esoteric vibe created.  Lyrics are repeated over massive guitars that drone out huge rhythms amidst the screaming banshee sounds of the lead tones.

It is always exciting to stumble upon a band that does things a bit differently.  VAK know how to toe the line between catchy songwriting and sonic experimentation.  The end result is a thoroughly exciting album that is expressive, expansive, and original.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

1. Loud Wind
2. Melting Eyes
3. Birds of Earth
4. Defenceless
5. Collector
6. Underwater Whisper
7. Fear the Morning
8. Freddie/Time Freezes
Jesper Skarin – Bass, Vocals
Ivan Rey – Rhythm Guitars
Anders Bartonek – Drums
Robin Skarin – Keyboards
Tobias Alpadie – Lead Guitars
Record Label: Indie Recordings


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Edited 28 January 2023

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