Release: 23 April, 2018
Label: Blood Harvest
I actually reviewed Vahrzaw’s previous effort, “Twin Suns & Wolves’ Tongues,” four years ago. I found it to be an imminently enjoyable listen. Husk is the upcoming third offering from this Australian Black Metal trio. It definitely doesn’t start with its best foot forward. Despite containing some nice melodic, yet dissonant guitar bits, album opener “The Traveller” is mostly drowning in some sections under a sea of loud, washy hi-hat. I think that may be down to a production thing, perhaps, because it doesn’t happen on subsequent tracks. The second track, “Fiends in the Aether,” with its cool tom work from 1:38 to around 1:50 even serves as one of the drumming highlights on the record. It also has some killer harmonized lead work, which is always a plus. “Black Night by Firelight” kicks off in good old post-Norway Black Metal fashion with fast tremolo picked riffs that give way to the obligatory half-time section. The proggy flourishes that come in around the 2 minute mark are a nice touch, and the slower section with sustained ringing chords that comes in around the 3 minute mark provides the song with a nice breather before the final tempo push. “The King in Yellow” is a bit of a weak point. It has a good solo and some fun jagged bits toward the end. However, it unfortunately feels like little more than a segue to the next track, “The Epitaph of Garmonbozia (parts I and II).” What modern Black Metal record would be complete without at least one song that cracks the six minute mark? “The Epitaph of Garmonbozia” fills that role, and it does it nicely. Many modern bands attempting to write longer songs could take an example from it, as it goes through many changes in motif and mood before it’s ending. The uptempo first half is joined to the lilting, waltz-like second half by an acoustic backed guitar solo that boasts some satisfying fret work. It’s definitely a standout track. “House of the Red & White Lions” juxtaposes jagged death metal rhythms with more traditional black metal melodies. It makes for an interesting listen. “Kneel Kiss Kill” is the closest to the traditional pop music song format, mostly cycling between one or two different motifs. The groovy, almost Exhorder or Testament-like section from around 2:30 to about 3:19, with its “locked in” bass drum and guitar work, is a cool bit that adds a nice dynamic flourish to an otherwise standard song. “Husk,” with its pseudo-classical melodic tendencies, is a good album closer and doesn’t waste a second of it’s 5:39 runtime. On the whole another outstanding release from Vahrzaw. The band definitely seem to understand the use of dynamics in an extreme metal context, and the need to have thematic shifts in a longer piece of music. So many bands working in extreme music, and even in modern prog, don’t get that and tend to come off as stale if not outright annoying. Husk is another fine offering from this Aussie trio that is definitely worth a spin.