Sicilian black metal maestro Vardan has been described as perhaps the busiest man in the genre: and, with an amazing work rate which has seen him release an astonishing 22 albums during his career – including three (and one split EP) in 2014 alone – that is undoubtedly a more than apt portrayal of this seemingly tireless one man musical machine.
With such a prolific work rate, it could be argued that Vardan risks sacrificing the quality of his output for the sheer quantity of it: however, by performing and producing everything himself, Vardan displays an indepth knowledge and understanding of the BM mien and, as a result ‘Verses…’ produces a pulsating and hypnotic soundscape that is equally as cold and bleak as it is dark, dense – and epic (despite featuring only a quartet of songs, it clocks in at a little over 35 minutes in length!).
Playing a style of BM that has been variously decribed as “depressive” and “suicidal”, the four tracks on ‘Verses…’ – which themselves merely take Roman numerals for their titles – are certainly very much rooted in the Scandinavian (old) school, and don’t really mess too much with the traditional BM formula. Yes, they are dark – and, at times, depressing – but they broil and seethe around you like a million lost souls trying to fight their way out of the fiery pits, only for the inescapable force of Hades to, in turn, drag you into its irresistable and mesmeric grasp. Punishing blastbeats intermingle with sweeping atmospherics, while Vardan’s growling, grunting vocal perfectly exudes the right level of evil intent.
There are many who argue that black metal has become too commercial in recent years, with too much emphasis on theatricality and showmanship: while the likes of Vardan are continuing to tread their own DIY left-hand path, then the genre is in safe hands.
Tracklist: I / II / III / IV
‘Verses From Ancient Times’ is released on Moribund on January 20.