Wederganger – Halfvergaan Ontwaakt (Review)

WedergangerWederganger are a Black Metal band from the Netherlands. This is their début album.

This is largely mid-paced Black Metal with a haunting, mystical sound. They have a knack for combining typically dark Black Metal auras with more hopeful/heroic feelings to create music that is a double-edged blade, with one side sounding evil and malevolent and the other sounding epic and heroic.

Let’s start things off by saying that this is a damn fine record, with strong songs and interesting ideas.

The vocals combine strangled screams and confident cleans. These work with the dual nature of the music to create an atmosphere that’s both epic and grim. You can kind of think of it as Darkthrone meets Bathory, with probably a little more of the former in their sound rather than the latter. Either way, it results in Halfvergaan Ontwaakt sounding a bit different to the usual Black Metal norm, which is to be commended.

Wederganger continue in this vein for just under 44 minutes, working their black magic on the listener and weaving a spell that’s quite enticing. Their interesting take on Black Metal is infectious and it’s quite clear that the formula they’ve developed on Halfvergaan Ontwaakt works. These are enjoyable songs that perfectly straddle the boundaries of Orthodox Black Metal and epic, Folk Black Metal.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable release that uses two very old styles as its musical base, allowing the band freedom to create their own vision of what Black Metal should be.

And do you know what? Their vision looks pretty damn good.

Favourite Track: Dodendans. Perfectly judged, sorrowful cleans with just the right amount of vigour, powerful leads and a hypnotic, crawling delivery make this track a winner among a wealth of strong songs.

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Jarun – Pod Niebem Utkanym z Popiołu (Review)

JarunJarun are a Black Metal band from Poland and this is their second album.

Jarun play Black Metal with Progressive/Folk elements.

This release combines considered reflection, passionate delivery and fiery Black Metal into a cohesive hole that does well to temper Black Metal’s dark flame with a subtle Folkier perspective. The Progressive Metal elements fit well into this musical tapestry and allow the music an even broader scope.

If you think of a merging of Enslaved, Thy Worshiper, Opeth and ugly, primitive Black Metal then you’ll be on the right lines. The juxtaposition of the raw Black Metal core with the sophistication and nuance of Progressive Black Metal is enough for many bands to contemplate, but add to this some Folk influences and Pod Niebem Utkanym z Popiołu becomes even more impressive.

The band have a guitar sound that they use well; when distorted it’s gritty and abrasive, but when the distortion fades it’s nicely clean and polished.

The vocals are gruff, savage barks that wouldn’t be out of place on an underground Grindcore release. They add real bite to the tracks and show that Jarun have that aggressive core, even when the music is more refined.

These songs are impressively realised beasts that have a lot of variety and content to them. They’re well-written and the playing time makes the most of the incorporated styles to take the listener on a journey through Jarun’s highly textured world.

Jarun strike the right tone with their songs and they get the correct balance between their particular influences. Acoustic and cleaner sections abound within the heavier, grimmer framework and the riffs, solos and leads all add a lot to the moods they create.

When I first approached this release I wasn’t sure what to expect; the cover gives little away, and I don’t read Polish so apart from knowing it was a Black Metal release of sorts, that was all. As it turns out, Pod Niebem Utkanym z Popiołu has been an extremely pleasant surprise. I love albums that have a depth to them and Jarun succeed in being able to write songs that capture the attention with their Progressive style and yet have ample enough aggression to satisfy.

I do fear this is somewhat destined to be a lost gem; let’s try to stop this from happening. Jarun are a band more than deserving of support; this is an impressive album from a talented band.

Extremely highly recommended.