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Vigilance - Enter the Endless Abyss Award winner

Vigilance
Enter the Endless Abyss
by Max Elias at 10 May 2019, 10:58 PM

The new VIGILANCE gives me Cirith Ungol vibes right off the bat. For those unfamiliar, contrary to the power metal implications of the name, CIRITH UNGOL are a classic metal band with darker elements (doomy and otherwise). The strident opening riff on "Blood and Black Lace" recalls them perfectly. Good news for me, because I love CIRITH UNGOL. The faster triplet groove that the song develops into may be more NWOBHM, but it’s undeniably a headbanger. The song is interesting; it’s like darker Maiden but with hoarser vocals I’d expect to hear in a Celtic Frost song. Despite the anachronism, the style only enhances the chaotic upheaval the band is going for. The last thirty seconds or so slow back down to the CIRITH UNGOL-inspired parts. "The Return of the Savage" is classic NWOBHM with, again, that darker tinge. Kind of reminds me of SATAN, another band I love. They prove that a good rousing classic metal chorus doesn’t need soaring vocals, as the epic nature is preserved despite the tormented howls of vocalist Adam. I’ll be humming the intro riff for a while.

We even get a little folk metal grandeur on this album; on "Dvoglava Kaca" (besides being really fun to say), a traditional-sounding melody starts us off, before the song kicks into more classic metal grooves. The melody lines here are simple but blood-boiling, the exact intent of the NWOBHM movement (in my opinion). I think the instrument doing the folk stuff is a flute or something? Whatever it is, when the melody is reintroduced it’s glorious. Then we get to "The Gunslinger" which sounds vaguely like Paul Di’Anno-era Maiden with heavier vocals. Which is nothing against the song of course, as the simpler riffs underneath frantic drum patterns would drive anyone’s head banging—although the gallops a little after the three-minute mark are straight out of Steve Harris’ playbook. The solo into the ending melody is reminiscent of that too, but with enough of the band’s own unique energy to still come off as fresh. As with most classic metal, solos are bluesy and not necessarily overly bombastic, but fantastic at setting the mood; from the opening notes of "Night Raid", it’s clear that full-throttle metal is today’s course. The mild interlude after the two-minute mark comes as a bit of a surprise, but not too much of one for a band clearly influenced by CIRITH UNGOL-type bands as well as more mainstream classic metal acts equally. And the drum fills on that are just spastic enough to maintain the hype of the rest of the song, while not seeming gratuitous.

It’s really very different overall, but when I heard the intro riff in "Knights of Valor", my first thought was ‘Iron Maiden’ (not the band, the song). They go on to establish a ripping ride that is all their own, although it does have similar urgency as that timeless anthem. Again with a break from the main song at around the two-minute mark; it seems like VIGILANCE have some structural tricks they are very attached to. Nevertheless the riff is appropriate and leads into a solo I’d expect to hear a slightly more psychedelic Dave Murray play over the clean part in ‘Powerslave’.

Overall, the album is filled with the kind of high-intensity, melody-conscious music that made Maiden such a novel act in the 80s, and although the vocals seem strange in concept, once you live with them for a little, they’re in fact kind of fitting. The album also repeats itself structurally at times. But it closes on two strong notes; "Stormblade" boasts a fun main riff and expansion of that motif throughout, and "Crni Kolovrat", as the other native-language song on this album, is also the longest.

But that means plenty of time for riff development; although a clear groove is established in the first minute, the band soon branches into spacier territory that lets the coarse barking vocals have their day. It seems like no matter the length of the song, important transitions always happen around the two-minute mark. This particular one shifts into higher-energy bursts of melodicism that I would at this point characterize as ‘classic VIGILANCE’. The song slows to a crawl before the end chorus—I think it’s the chorus, because they repeat it a bunch, but I don’t speak Slovenian—picks the energy back up again.

I definitely enjoyed this, and even if there are elements of different bands in the songs that I can point to, VIGILANCE has created something distinct with this record. Part of that could be the rasping vocals not being a staple of most classic metal, but they have their own approach to instrumentation as well that’s not quite Maiden but not quite CIRITH UNGOL (or other NWOBHM) either.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Blood and Black Lace
2. The Return of the Savage
3. Dvoglava Kaca
4. The Gunslinger
5. Night Raid
6. Knights of Valor
7. Stormblade
8. Crni Kolovrat
Lineup:
Tine Kaluža - Drums
Gilian Adam - Guitars/vocals
Andrej Škof - Bass
Anej Buonassisi - Guitars
Record Label: Dying Victims Productions
     


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