Title: Soul Void
Label: Black Devastation Records
Genre: Black Metal
01 Tormenting catharsis
02 Herald of ruin
03 Dropping the gulp of blood
04 Night of the soul void
05 Life denial
06 Enemy of every human
07 In the glare of pyres
08 Gates of death
From Saint Petersburg comes this storming black metal trio delivering a classic combo of raw blackness with a level of technique and ornament. The band is conformed by Winterheart on lead-rhythmic guitar, R. Vind on the Bass and D. Nox on the drums which complements the basic old school formation and type sound akin with classic bands such as Aura Noir with its typical thrash-black metal fury and Taake’s best guitar power chord moments or the low-fi rawness of an early Svartsyn. “Soul void” constitutes their second full length released on the German label Black devastation, this album has a long journey in its construction; it started to be composed in 2003 and was finally recorded on 2007, it clearly shows a lot of dedication track by track and intelligent manoeuvres, completing a solidified foundation. Let’s the “soul void” vacuum suck you in its spiral of brutal devastation.
In a sense this is a tribute to old school Norwegian black metal with some more pronounced accents on philosophical and existential thematic rather than the morbid fascination with the trickster or the dark side so typical in the old school patterns, on the other hand a preference for melody demarks divergence that impulse the different standard caused by Ulvdalir own character. There is a scent of thrash metal in the arrangements in the basic conformation of the music structure also, which remits to the days where Black metal and Thrash amiable coexisted as unique pair of sonic vermin. The level of technique is impressive although limited by the threesome line up that comes following a formality with the early style of black metal. The guitar riffage is the central focal point where everything else conveys in. Guitar elegantly mix crude melodic lines with brutal tremolo rhythmic riffs leaving no batches between the rhythmic changes, demonstrating an excellent display of harmonic and rhythmic association preserving the fury and vileness for the aural assault guaranteeing surprises along the work and riffing filigrees inside each track. One of the fundamental additions established by Ulvdalir is the inclusion of contrasting cadences in between sections, from Black thrash combo hooks to asphyxiating slow Doom metal riffs, rather conforming a structure of mountains and valleys through the work where frenzy moments slip into the bottomless pit of perdition which again distances from the orthodox formula of classic old school. A good example on this aspect is the song “Herald of ruin” with its pestilent slow paced riffs set to grab the listener by his neck or the necrotic mix of Black metal throttle with avid thrashy rhythmic changes that descends into a sludgy riff dirge of epic proportions. The general mood of the music is aggressive and furious though, characterized by the impromptu of basic hi-hat and double bass drumming or hardened sections of elaborated violence, these moments are just slowed down in momentary shades of depression in the more spaced rhythmic lines followed by very slow paced drumming sequences. The voice preserves a guttural tonality, torn in low grunts with space for high pitched levelling. The work doesn’t stand out to have a very clear kind of sound, rather opted for a more low-fi fiber while preserving a crispy treble basis on the guitar section and a raw final mix on the drums permeating them with that old texture only found in old bands.
Although not groundbreaking in strict sense, the album presents technical surprises for the connoisseur or the foul black metaller wanting to find a piece of chaos and an evidence of classic black metal worshipping. The opener “Tormenting catharsis” is a typical example of the derived brutality from Ulvdalir own interpretation of Black metal with virulent rhythmic passages with classic tremolo and blast beat to more sophisticated ornaments in between, so well performed and mixed that the rhythm alone will carry you away without noticing the extraction of pure sense of harmony coming off from each section. The lyrics are very interesting, very inquisitive existential conundrums and philosophical misanthropic considerations, not the average type of brainless lyric you will find in most bands whether new or old. They also recur to the use of atmospheric outros in between track passages, increasing the momentum of the previous and preparing the entrance of the next, a very clever addition that cuts the sole dedication to instrumentation and fast paced violence.
A feeling of retro Black is perceived in Ulvdalir, but they succumb not to adore it entirely while losing all opportunity to present more modern ideas and conforming an identity by doing so. Their Black metal interpretation is somehow orthodox in form but seen in detail, various characteristics present dissidence: the level of technique and elaboration, the synchrony between melody and rhythm, the concepts considered for the lyric section, the interested present for atmospheric outros, the inclusion of Thrash and Doom movements subtly distances them from pure orthodoxy of the genre. This is good, not just for them, but for the listener. A dose of hateful brutality is present, not in rags but more likely in well harmonized shrouds with a drop from the elixir of purity. “Everyone will find himself before them” indeed!