Vrolok (United States Of America) – Resurgence III: Order Of The Sphere

Later Vrolok material is a very, very different beast from the project’s earlier work. In fact, ‘Resurgence III: Order Of The Sphere’ often sounds like a completely different band from the one that released the first in the ‘Resurgence’ trilogy five years previous. Where the original incarnation of Vrolok was very single-minded despite the variation in musical delivery, the material on this album is much more multifaceted as a whole, and reflects a much more mature and developed songwriting process. I’m not sure whether I should say that it’s better than earlier Vrolok; it’s more complex, and very different, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with objectively labeling it as ‘better’. Consider it ‘face three’ in the development of the ‘Resurgence’ trilogy, with each step showing a different side of the same general idea. This side, though, is a particularly fascinating and bizarre one, and one that I’ll probably be examining for years to come.

The first and most obvious change is in the importance of guitars. While earlier Vrolok’s riffing was fairly generic (which was excusable due to the highly deemphasized nature of guitars in the music overall), the riffcraft here is much more unique and quality, and the guitars have now achieved a place of importance in the band’s core sound. Vrolok on this release specializes in sets of dissonant tremolo riffing composed of handfuls of strangely shaped chords, with very simple riffs intersecting with each other at odd junctions, creating a cacophony of abstract Satanic strumming. They are not ‘memorable’ as far as riffs themselves go, but their atmospheres most certainly are: dark and ritualistic, and with an emphasis on a sort of metaphorical occult madness. The other elements are still intact: the low rumble of bass, the vicious vocals (though those are now pushed somewhat into the background as an additional texture), and the very unusual, electronic-derived drumming. That element has actually grown even more unique; the bursts of cymbals and snare from before are still present, but now they appear in a more ritualistic and savage form when placed in conjunction with the riffs, and a tribal influence appears to have arisen as well in some of the heavy, repetitive tomwork that sometimes appears.

A cursory look at the track listing of this album will reveal the rather obvious odd duck of the LP: ‘The Incarnate Form Of Black Ecstacy And Rapture, Visual Purgatory’ and its forty-one minute running time, and the fact that you have to wade through four lengthy tracks to get to it in the first place. These initial four tracks are genuinely excellent, and could easily form an album on their own. The tracks get progressively more complex and intricate as the album progresses, with ‘Concerning The Human Entity And Its Absolute Denial Of The Chaotic Spiritual Sphere’ reminding me very much of the material on ‘Resurgence I: Descent Through The Abyss’, with its raw, vicious delivery, while the penultimate track (and easily the best), ‘Without Nomenclature’, showcases a completely different side to Vrolok. I could really consider this nine minute track to be Vrolok’s apex, perfectly channeling the atmosphere and philosophical nature of the project into a single track. The pounding, tribalistic drumming under atonal, droning riffing and commanding rasps from Diabolus are absolutely compelling and unique, and the first two minutes of this song stand as some of the finest black metal I’ve ever heard. It’s the soundtrack to a Satanic invocation of the highest order, and stands mightily as a testament to all that black metal can and should be.

But of course, there is always the specter of the closing track looming mightily over the rest of the album. When the track first started, I really wondered to myself how you tell your drummer that he’ll have to be playing fairly robustly for forty minutes straight. The solution is simple: don’t play robustly, and don’t play for forty minutes straight! Elegant, isn’t it? Anyway, ‘The Incarnate Form Of Black Ecstacy And Rapture, Visual Purgatory’ marches through a more ambient spin on Vrolok’s traditional black metal for about eleven minutes before collapsing and becoming a drone track for the remaining thirty. It seems to be generated through distorted synth; there’s some slight melody throughout it, though it’s not very obvious or interesting. Diabolus apparently does a lot of ambient/noise material on the side; I suppose he felt that it was necessary to show it off under the Vrolok name for some reason. I’m sure it’s significant when it comes to the overall message and concept of the album, but be that as it may, it is kind of pretentious and gets old quickly, even if it isn’t offensive to the ears in and of itself. When discussion of this album heats up, a lot of people will say that the final track is their favorite because of the drone, but they’re probably lying and prefer the other four just like the rest of us. Consider it a very protracted bonus track, with the first part of the song forming the conclusion of the album.

So even minus the drone, you get about fifty minutes of some of the best USBM out there today. I can honestly say that I was very impressed by ‘Resurgence III: Order Of The Sphere’, and can readily claim that it’s a very unique and enduring work in its own right. It’s much more creative and ambitious than most other USBM, and like all Vrolok material, it never quite falls into filler or generic territory. It’s a great USBM album, but more importantly, it’s a great black metal album as a whole, minus any geographical differentiation. This is most certainly a CD to give a try if you’re seeking something new and of genuine quality in today’s oversaturated scene. Satan agrees that Vrolok is a good band worth supporting.

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~ by noktorn on October 7, 2007.

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