Saturday, February 6, 2010
VOLAHN "DIMENSIONES DEL TRANCE KOSMICO" (Klaxon)
Incredibly obscure cosmic black metal from the lead singer of Ashdautus. Both projects traffic in dissonance and alienation but where Ashdautus seem to be exploring a more personal sort of torment and despair, Volahn are more interested in the tenets of magick, ritual and Satanism. This is truly "old school" black metal, a record that is cloaked in a sort of amateur arrogance yet delivers on all its pretense. When i saw the band live last summer they weren't all that impressive-the set was mostly a wash of terribly over-echoed guitar dischord and formless shrieks. The record sounds totally different from that performance. There's a heavy mystical bent from the instant the needle drops. There's a lot of echo and reverb on this recording but not so much that the music becomes a shapeless effects wraith. "Dimensiones..." opens and close with some extended classical guitar, referencing flamenco in technique but traversing a much more arcane path melodically. Again the dissonance is apparent but not consuming-just enough to scramble your brain a little and confuse the idea of what you want to hear. After that the bands flies out of the gates at breakneck speed, pausing only a few times here and there to start up a new riff or let in a few moments of ambient atmosphere. I'm heavily reminded of "Nattens Madrigal" era Ulver-all tremolo picked high end guitar lines and garage level production, with a deceptively large amount of complementary guitars thrown in for weight and texture. The whole thing is shockingly well composed and Volahn's approach is really quite different from what most black metal is offering up today. No surprise that this piece of elite nostalgiah is released by Klaxon, the label operated by Bone Awl whose mission seems to be unearthing the most obscure practitioners of true black metal, the bands who still feel it's a tool for the transference of evil and a mystical power unto itself. Volahn have not made an easy record, but like Ulver before them the majesty is all in the detail and the dedicated listener will find ample rewards.