Vanum redefines classic Cascadian metal

With members of Ash Borer and Fell Voices, one might guess that Vanum would produce some hypnotic and atmospheric black metal. And one would be right. Californian by geography but utterly Cascadian by nature, this twosome delivers a relentless and thrilling attack of that which has become tried-and-true, but is still riveting when of this caliber.

All the hallmarks are here: there are only four tracks and three of them have 10+ minute run times. There are icy tremolo melodies galore. And the vocals are harsh and semi-distant cries of mystical gnosis, summoning the netherworld, casting down the heavens.

“Realm of Ascension” is immediately engrossing—pure and glorious Wolves-in-the-Throne-Room worship. After a few moments it is clear that there is inspired greatness here, as the epic melodies effortlessly writhe their way through one’s consciousness. “In Immaterial Flame,” however, actually takes things up a notch. A deceptively soothing intro gives way to rumbling percussion and buzzsaw riffs; and when it suddenly slams the pedal down it becomes mesmerizing and breathtaking. Melodies violently see-saw across the guitar fretboard and the intensity goes off the charts. This spastic-yet-controlled section bears more resemblance to Krallice than traditional Cascadian BM, but comes out all the better for it. “Convergence” again starts gentle but picks up steam, and when a spiraling, intoxicating melody line enters around the three-minute mark, ecstasy ensues. The rhythm chord changes beneath are absolute perfection and total epic bliss. “Realm of Sacrifice” drives home the Wolves aesthetic with full and beautiful force, the spellbinding melodic assault like a flock of birds whirling around one’s head at unnatural speed.

What Vanum is doing is nothing new, but it is masterfully and exquisitely rendered. It is said that one can have too much of a good thing, but I cannot foresee tiring of this style of black metal. When it’s this good, it’s timeless.

Revel in the obsidian glory here:

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