Vrtra – My Bones Hold a Stillness (Review)

VrtraVrtra are a black metal/post-black metal/blackened doom band from the US. This is their debut album.

Holy shit this is good! Is that an appropriate way to start a review? I dunno. Probably not, but who cares, because holy shit this is good!

This is a sickly-blackened release that contains elements of doom, death, black and post-metal within its 31 minute length. Vrtra do not respect musical boundaries, and why should they? I’ll tentatively refer to them as post-black metal, as black metal’s warped corruption is the only really constant reference point in their sound, but really this is a very diverse and impressively realised album that defies easy categorisation.

Playing music that’s multifaceted and successfully combines the aforementioned sub-genres into a collectively blackened whole, these tracks have a wealth of malevolent treasures to offer the listener, whether that’s black metal’s acidic venom, death metal’s blasting assault, doom’s slovenly crawl, or post-metal’s reflective introspection. Frequently, of course, these various influences are merged and mixed into one another, and thus the tapestry of Vrtra’s music is created.

Sometimes the band use melodic leads that contrast nicely against the tar-black tones of the rhythm guitars. At other times, it’s all about the sheer heaviness and crushing displays of slow riffery. At others again, it’s something completely different; maybe a soft section to tide you over before the devastation begins once more, or maybe coal-black blast beats, or a lonesome solo.

Whatever they’re getting up to, the use of light and shade on My Bones Hold a Stillness is a finely crafted art that somehow manages to make even the lighter parts sound shaded in darkness.

I also really like the production on this album – it’s heavier and fuller than a lot of comparable releases, and coats everything in just the right amount of darkness and decay.

As for the vocals, we get grim screams, soft cleans, deep growls and harsh roars; all are used throughout the playing time, all performed very well indeed. The singer is on top form throughout, (or singers? Who knows?).

These songs are rugged, rough and nasty beasts. Oooooh, but this is damn good stuff! One of the, (many), great things about listening to heavy music is the sheer diversity of what’s out there, and the massive excitement when you discover something new and wonderful. Finding an album that just floors you, and then getting to know it over time, letting it claw its way into your brain and do its thing…well, not a lot can compare. Music like that doesn’t come along as often as you’d think, but My Bones Hold a Stillness is one such release.

So, as I said at the start – holy shit this is good!

Utterly compelling and essential.

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