Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Volahn - Aq'Ab'Al (2014/2015) / 93%

Pre-Columbian Darkness

Eduardo Ramírez is back with the newest Volahn album and the first full length since 2008. Proclaimed as the leader of the cult Black Twilight Circle, a being that can be considered to be the Californian equivalent to the Les Légions Noires. This man evolves in many like minded band and creates some of the most interesting American black metal currently being released. Inspired by the pre-hispanic cultures (look at this marvelous cover), this closed and mystic scene is an unique beast able to differentiate itself from the pack.

Alongside spiritual brothers like Odz Manouk or Blue Hummingbird on the Left, there's a very esoteric sound found in Volahn's music. The cultural identity of the band is tightly linked to its atmospheric purposes, you can definitely feel the historical weight of the Maya or Aztec civilizations in his music throughout classical guitars, subtle but enjoyable ambient and nature touches. Rich and with a very organic production, Aq'Ab'Al is a bulldozer of riffs and tremolos leads that are the bread and butter of this album. They make the ten plus minutes songs stand out and become brief, tremendous voyages into the heart of pre colonial America. Furthermore, Ramírez' sense of melody is pretty outstanding, he knows how to write guitar leads that are worth investing your hard earned money into this album instead of visiting the Latin America ruins (well, do both if you can, of course.)

Musically, it's a mix of many black metal scenes, some Norwegian hints here and there to go with the German (think Nagelfar), Polish or Greek scenes. It's intricate and fancy as hell but never forgets to unleash the evilness and occultism necessary in black metal (Christian black metal can go live with Scott Stapp and thrive with the words of god). Volahn is yet another proof that you don't need to constantly evoke the name of the fallen angel to create a worthwhile dark aura.

The thematic and musical approach really reminds of the gigantic Mesopotamian beast Melechesh who also walks their own ideological paths (I can't wait for their new album scheduled for February and making me wish it was 2015 already), Volahn akin to Ashmedi's seminal project, are able to compose intense, groundbreaking black metal with deep, relevant folkloric and cultural integrations. The use of the always colorful Spanish language obviously serves as a catalyst and pushes the execution of their will to a higher level.

I'm just discovering this circle but I'll surely investigate it since its vision is awesome. It's my sort of black metal, it's varied while being cohesive and has the sound quality that is the middle ground between raw and clean.

Highly recommended for black metal fans that want something midly adventurous while not treading on cheesy or saccharine territories.

Already out on tape on Crepúsculo Negro, to be released on CD and LP on Iron Bonehead in January 2015

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