When experimental varieties of black metal are discussed, most dedicated metal fans can probably check off the usual suspects in a single breath. Ulver for ambiance and atmosphere, Oranssi Pazuzu for psychedelic stuff, Blut Aus Nord for progressive rock, and Enslaved for… everything else.
Many black metal bands looking to break with convention, ironically, get corralled into certain camps through comparisons to one or more of the above. What you don’t hear a whole lot of is black metal combined with jazz guitar. This is something that is attributable to Norway’s Ved Buens Ende and pitifully few others. However, the Czech Republic’s Voluptas appears to be willing to walk in Ved Buens Ende’s mighty angular footsteps on their second EP Towards the Great White Nothing.
The album begins in the usual fashion, with a howling sweep of vile tremolos and tundra shaving blast beats on “Crystalline Key,” where established elements of second-wave black metal are subtly subverted by a patiently metered baseline that tugs at your attention purposely, leading you out of the thicket of lacerating guitars and into cool basins of psychedelic sludge.
“Thargelia” follows, transforming the tremolos of the previous track into violent, Earth shifting sway of trepidatious groves that throw you through uneasy transitions between parts like you were a battering ram, heaved head-first into the uninviting panels of the ornately carved doors of a dungeon keep.
“Of Gnosis and Agony” has a distinctly Voivod feel with its thrashy, tempo-accelerating grooves and progressive sense of narrative melody. “Between Terror and Erebus” opens with a Black Sabbath-esque downer broil before turning the heat up full blast in order to char both sides of your ass with a menacingly hot bloom of blue flame licks and the limb-claiming bow and reach of its bass parts. The EP finally wraps with the thirteen-minute arid march of delirium, “Desert Twilight,” replete with sax accompaniments.
You can listen to the entire EP Towards the Great White Nothing from Voluptas via Bandcamp below:
Get a copy of Towards the Great White Nothing via Metalgate Records here.