Varghkoghargasmal. When we first discovered this German one man band, it was via a cassette, with a black and white photocopied cover, a washed out image of some wintry forest landscape, accompanied by the legend 'wooden metal'. Needless to say we were totally intrigued, only to discover, that there wasnıt anything really that metal about it, or wooden even. Not sure if 'wooden' referred to the trees, or to acoustic guitars, but none of that mattered once we head the music inside. A twisted confusional mix of slowed down Dick Dale style surf riffage, stumbling drums, haunting melodies, warbly organs, all wrapped around a simple motorik almost krautrock groove. We had no idea what to call it, or really even what to think, other than being totally smitten, transfixed and ensorcelled. Definitely ensorcelled.
So here we have the brand new album from Avenger, the man solely responsible for Varghkoghargasmal, and if anything, itıs even more haunting and mysterious, more creepy and strange, and somehow way more beautiful.
It's a difficult sound to describe, the guitars are clean, but are often still playing in a black metal style, frantic riffing or rapid picking, but just as often the guitars are spidery and minor key, unfurling lugubrious tendrils of creepy twang, or reverbed shimmer. The vocals are minimal, a hushed whisper here and there, a Viking style chant during one song, but itıs mostly left to the music, which is incredibly evocative, itıs like some sort of acoustic black metal, mixed with slowed down surf rock, dark languorous krautrock, and a distinct Morricone vibe as well. And then there are the drums, which by design or by happenstance, are a definite sonic focal point, as they are WAY up in the mix, and they are all over the place, the fills are chaotic, the rhythms stumble and stutter, but in their imperfections lie a truly unique sort of emotion and feeling not found in most music. The drums anchor everything, locking into foresty krautrock grooves, sputtering into dense little tumbling squalls, the prefect framework for Avenger's rickety moonlit jams.
Most of the songs creep and crawl, sometimes behind a curtain of rainfall, the sound of the forest spirits, flickering firelight, fireflies lighting up the canopy overhead, pianos pick out mournful melodies, the drums, lurching along, a perfectly imperfect accompaniment, organs wheeze, synths whir, steel strings twang, the whole thing so impossibly transcendent, effortlessly evoking ancient atmospheres and deep emotions. When the band lock into a more rocking groove, and the rhythm builds into something propulsive, the guitars stretch out into long streaks of buzzing melodies, the organ plays along like some old time music box, and the sound transforms before your ears and transports you to some truly mysterious otherworld.
There are some black metal references for sure, mostly the ambient bits of Burzum, and some of the riffing recalls suicidal black metal, albeit played with no distortion and more melancholy really than miserable, some of the more frenzied parts even sound like Iron Maiden played on acoustic guitars, and sometimes the guitars manage to sound like banjos, but still the creepiest and prettiest moments occur when the sound winds down into something much more minimal and muted, letting the keyboards weave fluttery melodies, over whirring drones and spare guitar melodies, only occasionally flecked with little flurries of haphazard drumming.
Utterly unlike anything else you will ever hear! Hauntingly beautiful, beautifully damaged and so totally essential listening for folks into fucked up black metal, and freaked out blackened krautfolk and of course WOODEN METAL.
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