Label Roundup: Vendetta Records – Afsky, Vukari, and Ultha (Reviews)

Wonderbox Metal gets sent a lot of new music, (which is great), but there’s no way that everything can get covered unfortunately, (which is not so great). This column hopes to redress this balance, if only slightly, by taking a look at a handful of releases that a record label has recently sent out that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

I like the output of Vendetta Records a great deal, so I wanted to revisit them once more. However, unlike last time when I looked at a few of their upcoming releases, this time I wanted to focus on a few gems from earlier in the year that you, (and I), may have missed.

Afsky – I Stilhed – Denmark – Black Metal

Afsky - I StilhedThe artist behind Afsky is normally known for his highly regarded atmospheric black metal, (absolutely check out Sorg and Ofte Jeg Drømmer Mig Død), but this EP offers something a bit different.

Across 20 minutes the artist provides us with a series of brief acoustic intros, outros, and interlude tracks, all delivered with skill and melancholic weight. Although l usually, (rightly), moan about these kind of tracks on albums, here, isolated, and delivered in one setting, they work wonderfully well. It helps when you have the sort of creative talent that the artist behind Afsky has too, of course. I Stilhed is a mellow, minimalistic, and remarkably effective experience. Check this out.

Vukari – Omnes Nihil – Black Metal – USA

Vukari - Omnes NihilAnother EP now, this time from a band I unfortunately haven’t had a chance to check in with since 2016’s Divination. This was released in February through Vendetta, but it looks like it actually came out originally near the end of 2021. Either way, it’s a cracking 25 minutes of blackened aggression.

This is an expertly crafted slice of modern black metal. It seethes with misanthropic rage and raw malevolent power. Bleak melodies seep through the music’s otherworldly pores adding colour to the mood-rich assault, while harsh atmosphere threatens to overwhelm with vicious potency. Vukari sound, quite frankly, amazing here.

Omnes Nihil is Vukari blazing with such intensity that they could outshine the sun. I’m very glad I finally caught up with this, as Omnes Nihil is very much a winner. Don’t miss out on this.

Ultha – All That Has Never Been True – Black Metal – Germany

Ultha - All That Has Never Been TrueUltha massively impressed me with their 2016 album Converging Sins and their split a year later with Paramnesia, so this is the third of the three in this list that I was very excited to catch up with.

Boy, am I glad that I did. All That Has Never Been True is a 58-minute journey into grim texture, cold misery, and emotional intensity.

Ultha’s music has a modern atmospheric black metal sound, one that’s strikingly potent and full of affecting emotive weight. The band craft their involved and engaging soundscapes with dark feeling in mind, building up a layered world for the listener to explore over time. The album’s combination of terrifying beauty and haunting darkness is utterly compelling.

All That Has Never Been True is an exceptional record. Ultha have created an immersive experience that only gets richer and deeper over time as you get to know the music intimately. Essential.

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