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Vyrion – Nil

by Andrew Graham at 09 November 2020, 3:25 PM

Australian black metallers VYRION unleash their third full-length album, a concept album centred around themes of decay, decline and fall. With progressive elements on display throughout, we have a genuinely frightening (possible) glimpse into our future – given the overall state of things at this point in 2020, this is all the more frightening!

A few reviews ago I wrote about how difficult it is for metal to be genuinely scary now. With black metal this task seems all the more difficult, given how familiar black metal has now become in popular culture and, this, how easy it is to caricature. Many metal artists through its colourful history have written on the theme of decay and the fall of human civilisation. Seldom, however, do we find ourselves in a time and place where this theme carries with it a genuinely felt sense of threat.

From the opening tremolo notes of “Beleaguered”, the sense of existential dread weighs heavily on the conscience. A guitar tone that’s more than a little fuzzy around the edges adds to the sense of unease; of not quite being able to hear precisely what’s going on – the audio equivalent of a mist. Though the bass sits way too far back for my liking, it’s audible, but banished to the very low frequencies, filling that space a little too much. Though I have to say if it was intentional then, frankly, it merely adds to the sense of unease… so… well done? There are also moments of contrasting noise and quiet, which fans of prog from the other dark side would find aplenty in acts like OPETH.

“Squall” crashes into view with riffage that would make fans of other established black metal acts feel right at home – the dissonance is strong with this one! Again, the comparisons to OPETH are, I think, more than apt. The prog moments nicely bookend the more brutal, uncompromising conventional black metal sections. On this track, and for all time, the dual vocal style performs wonderfully. There’s a blending of black and death metal styles. The black shriek can, nay, should, be counted among the finest examples of its kind. Ihsahn and Atilla Csihar are fitting comparisons. The death metal growl reminded me strongly of Bill Steer’s gurgly backing vocals on CARCASS’S early work – very satisfying!

“Avalanche” opens with a clean tone, building on the established prog elements that have been so skilfully utilised up to this point. After a suitably crushing black metal stomp we get a very strong black ‘n’ roll feel. At the risk of making more comparisons, think a blackened ENTOMBED and you have the right idea. There is no rest for the listener, as the profound sense of unease continues relentlessly over the course of this track. “Erupt”, at just over three minutes, is a short offering compared to the other tracks on the album but is no less uncompromising than the other content.

“Crave” is an epic mid-point, clocking in at just over eight minutes. The momentum is kept up without at any point becoming repetitive. The main riff becomes second nature to us by the end of the song, but it so disturbs us that it becomes strangely hypnotic: like a car crash we cannot avert our eyes, or in this case, ears. Droning guitars and blast beats fade out ominously, tricking us momentarily into thinking we’re safe.

Thus “Monuments” comes creeping in with yet more clean, yet disconcerting melody. A slower pace is on display here, but this merely serves to give us more leisurely time to consider just how uncomfortable the music makes us feel. Tremolo riffs are punctuated by dissonant chords of a calibre that you would expect from MAYHEM’S recent releases. “Dethrone” opens relentlessly, before giving way to almost mournful chords – the title suggests the descent of man that is ultimately at the core of this album. This track is a real highlight as there are many tasty riffs to be found! We end with “Infect” which, as a song title, should make the listener more than a little itchy under present circumstances! Again, we have discomforting clean guitars to open, evoking death and decay from the word go. Guitars fade to noise as the song concludes, leaving the listener feeling every bit as uncomfortable as they did when we started: full circle!

I’m surprised that these guys haven’t yet been signed, because what’s on offer here is astonishing. That they manage to genuinely disturb is a testament to their talent as songwriters (and not just to the real-world events that it is far too easy to draw comparisons with!) This album feels important somehow, as though there is a warning contained therein that everybody should hear. Regardless of how you feel about possibly prophetic music, VYRION aim high and beat their mark by a mile! This is most definitely worth your time!

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

  1. Beleaguered
  2. Squall
  3. Avalanche
  4. Erupt
  5. Crave
  6. Monuments
  7. Dethrones
  8. Infect
Mark Boyce – Guitars
Dale Williams – Vocals & Guitars
Mitch Rogers – Bass & Vocals
Jimmy Negative – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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