Album Review: Vardan – “Winter Woods”

Winter Woods

Thirteen albums in seven years is some truly prolific proliferation. When one considers that five of those (yes, five) have been released in this calendar year, it’s utter fucking madness. Does Sicily’s Vardan truly believe everything he releases under his eponymous project’s banner of blackness is worth us hearing, or is he just trying to “sad” us into oblivion?

Something’s broken in Vardan (the man) of late, rendering the Vardan (the band) behind 2012’s Inverted Cross/Thunderbolt a forlorn, listless spirit more focused on sadness than spite, tears than terror. Winter Woods (Pt. 1) shuffles into view, almost like an old man lost in his thoughts and only just realizing he’s being watched. What does he do, then? In this case, he sits and beckons us listen to his tale, somber, singular notes wafting through the air like falling autumn leaves. Vocals are run-of-the-mill depressive black metal pissing and moaning, indecipherable, but it somehow works for what Vardan hopes to achieve here, transforming the typical tortured howls into simply another instrument amid the sparse construction that is the man’s stock and trade these days.

“Uroborus Black Circle” picks up the pace considerably, recalling some of Svarti Loghin’s more driving material, yet still never moves above mid-paced melancholy. It’s not all bad, and provides a welcome distraction after the former tune’s dolor. During “Cold Night Of My Soul” the old man starts to wander away, not because he’s finished, but because he’s forgotten that you were even there and listening, resulting in a song that feels “more filler than killer”, and drags down the already languid momentum present on Winter Woods.

Thankfully, “The Cry Of Dying Forests” reclaims our mutual attention, expansive yet barren in soundscape, the last gasp of a nature unrevered hanging on the fetid breeze. (Lord Randall)

Purchase Winter Woods here.

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