Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Vhöl: Vhöl (2013)

Turn Up the Vhölume

Let’s get the clichés out of the way first. Number one, Vhöl is going to be attached to the term “supergroup” because it features members of Ludicra/Agalloch, Yob, and Hammers of Misfortune. There are times when you can guess what a supergroup is going to sound like based on the members’ other projects. That barely applies here. Number two, the band’s self-titled debut is on Profound Lore, so you can almost guarantee it will be good. That one does apply here. But I’m going to do my best to avoid those clichés from here on out.

Vhöl is going to be one of the most interesting sounds you’ll hear in 2013. There’s always a risk of oversimplification when a reviewer hands down a formula, but it’s a useful tool. This is what could have happened if Ludicra had gone the way of Darkthrone, keeping some of their black metal intact but falling in love with the crust punk and heavy metal of the 80’s.

Actually, that’s a pretty damn good explanation, if you don’t mind my saying. Check out the first minute of “Arising.” It can’t simply be boiled down to “American Darkthrone”* because there is a whiff of Ludicra in here--check “Illuminate” for proof. It doesn’t all fit into that formula so simply. Album highlight “Grace” has a melody that wouldn’t be out of place coming from Killing Joke, and closer “Set to Await Forever” is in a blues/doom place.

Instrumentally, everyone is playing on an absolutely inspired level, and together with a very strong production job it has all the rawness and power you could want. The biggest surprise for me is vocalist Mike Scheidt. He has truly found his calling here, going back and forth between the harsh vocals you’d expect and an otherworldly high-pitched delivery. Scheidt is a black metal Rob Halford.

I can’t find anything negative to say about it. You should buy this.

The Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars

* “American Darkthrone” sounds like a really badass reality TV show.

Profound Lore Records
Preorder/Buy Vhöl

1 comment:

  1. Wow, great review Kelly. I wasn't aware of the black metal / Darkthrone part of Vhöl before... I really want this now.