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Vanum - Legend Award winner

by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 30 May 2022, 4:44 AM

VANUM is a black metal band from the United States who released their first album, “Realm Of Sacrifice,” in 2015.   Their new album, “Legend,” is their third full length; they have also released an EP. I was suggested this band by a fellow metalhead just weeks before I received this promo.  As such, I haven’t had the time to fully dive into their discography.  However, I have listened to enough of it, and more than enough of this new one, to firmly say “Legend,” is this band’s best album so far.

Their brand of black metal tends to be represented by long songs, and that is also the case with this album, with one of them being over fourteen minutes in length.  This type of song structure may bother some but as a doom fan, I am used to it. But for “Legend,” the lengths don’t really matter because of how true the songs’ compositions show through.  It might require some patients, especially for those unaccustomed to epic song lengths, but the journey through each cut is worth.  And the lengths are needed—there isn’t any filler or fluff to be found any of the five tracks represented.  Besides, it is still just around 45 minutes in length—not overly long but definitely short enough that a few listens won’t bother you.

The songwriting is very much centered on the guitar.  Plenty of tasty riffs are to be found within  and that tends to be the focus of the songs.  The lead guitar gets plenty of moments as well—this album is chock full delicious melodies and slick leads.   The vocals are a hoarse blackened scream/death growl combination that sounds depraved but not so much it takes away from the songs.  The rhythm section is strong, tight, and can be clearly heard through the album’s near pristine production.

The Adversary,” opens the album with cannon ball blasts of drums, and lead guitar that quickly builds up to melodic riffs.  A guitar melody in the beginning immediately sends it all soaring to the skies —-this is black metal, sure, but the band doesn’t shy away from dreamy landscapes or high flying melodies.mThe song gets faster and more aggressive as it marches ever forward and the last few minutes are blistering guitar harmonies and leads with furious double bass and melodic bass.  So many bands don’t know when to end a song but VANUM has a knack for letting the song end when it needs too, despite how long or short it may be.

The Gateway And The Key,” is a more immediate track, focusing highly on straight forward black metal. Subtle use of keys add just the right flavor for the main course, a sort of counter balance to the focus that rests on the guitars.  A little over the halfway mark, a clean section finds its way in and is actually surprisingly soothing yet emotional.  It is little moments like this that make this band, and album ,standout from the rest. “Frozen In Vile Illumination,” feels like it will be violent in the beginning but the sound is quickly expanded beyond that scope.  The guitars push ever forward, their riffs and melodies just sort of outstretching before them, grasping everything around them.   As the seconds go, the song does indeed get more aggressive.  The last two minutes are definitely more subdued but no less interesting and important to the song.

The title track is up next and, like any good title track, is a great overview of the album as a whole.  The vocals have a great sense of urgency among the riffs and the band is in sync more than ever.  The melodies and harmonies compliment the riffs even has they bounce off them.  And now we reach the last track, “Beneath The Pillars Of Earth and Air,” which is one of the best black metal songs I’ve heard this year.  I just love everything about this track, especially how it spends over a minute building up layers.  The initial slower pace and Gothic tinged hooks gives this song a nice doom metal feel—and it works wonders for their sound.  Although there are vocals, the bulk of the song is focused on the instrumentation.  There is a spacious, somewhat ambient section later in the song but I found it interesting yet mysterious—it never slowed the pace of the song, only adding to the atmosphere.

All in all, with “Legend,” VANUM have taken yet another step towards being legends themselves.  This isn’t just a great black metal album—it is a great album, period.

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

4 Star Rating

1. Adversary
2. The Gateway And The Key
3. Frozen In Vile Illumination
4. Legend
5. Beneath The Pillars of Earth and Air
L. Sheppard - Guitars
M. Rekevics – Vocals, Drums
K. Morgan – Guitars, Vocals
E. Priesner – Bass
Record Label: Eisenwald


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