V.A.C.K. – L’ombre De La Solitude

In all honesty, I don’t feel like I ever really ‘got’ this album. Or I do, but in a distant way, like how I get how some people could appreciate Celine Dion without ever being able to FEEL that appreciation myself. I like a lot of raw and primitive black metal, but this PARTICULAR raw and primitive black metal is hard for me to sink my teeth into. It’s the sort of thing I put on as a demonstration listen for friends when I want to talk about weird underground black metal; but after like two minutes of it I usually put something else on. It’s not bad music, it’s just a hard listen and one that seems more based around the idea of the music than the music itself.

When people ask be what V.A.C.K. sounds like, I describe it as ‘a party full of drunken Nazi vampires’. I can’t think of a more precise way to encapsulate the band’s sound. It’s not too surprising that V.A.C.K. hails from Quebec; they have that Francophone raw black metal sound with more than a small hint of gothic atmosphere and theatricism. You could say that there’s a pretty direct line from these guys to Anorexia Nervosa; really they’re just two sides of the same coin. I guess you have a decent idea of the sound of ‘L’ombre De La Solitude’ if you imagine a world where Hellhammer stayed together and Tom Warrior ended up listening to a lot of Mayhem. You can see the roots of this music in first wave black metal, but it’s gotten… weirder. The riffs don’t groove or thrash, but seem to be purely about expressing the weird, theatrical atmosphere. Even the rhythms are overly specialized, with strange, rickety motions across the drum kit taking precedence over ‘normal’ drumming. Vocals alternate between a violent screech and semi-clean, declarative tone, like you might hear on Mayhem’s ‘Grand Declaration Of War’. The mixture of these elements is strange to say the least.

The production is VERY strange and raw. It genuinely sounds like it was recorded in a practice space. Drums are very subdued, noisy guitars fill most of the musical space, and vocals with a thin sheen of cheap microphone just sort of spew all over the place. The guitar tone is especially bizarre, like they’re attempting to cheaply imitate the Sunlight Studios sound, resulting in a noisy and buzzing but not particularly sharp string section. All these elements give the music a very unique sound, but it’s also hard to listen to simply because there’s so little in the way of ‘traditional’ riffs or structures. Or rather, you can recognize the traditional elements before they got perverted into bizarre, hobbling versions of themselves. The riffs are so winding and arrhythmic that it seems the band is deliberately trying to stop themselves from being understood.

I bet this would probably be good music to listen to with a bunch of vaguely danger, mentally unstable metalheads at around 3 in the morning while completely wasted, but I haven’t had the opportunity to do that so I’m basing this off of sitting at my computer or in my car listening to it. It’s cool as an art piece and an atmospheric study, but it’s hard to identify with it. It’s oldschool raw black metal, but it’s the exact opposite of headbanging music. Good while half-jokingly threatening to kill someone with a broken bottle though.

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~ by noktorn on May 25, 2008.

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