Storytelling through music and words can transform an album experience from a collection of songs to a narrative you must follow from front to back. Even if the piece is not a true linear concept record, loosely aligned songs can take a listener from the front door, through each tale housed within the album’s doors, and back out again, as you leave with an adventure in your back pocket.
Toronto-based doom band Völur have a nice grip on this very thing, as they’ve reached back into the Germanic spiritual world and created opuses that visit stories from the past that jettison to the modern era. Their excellent second record “Ancestors,” the follow-up to their debut “Disir,” is the latest helping of what they view as a four-album piece spotlighting their source material muse. However, where “Disir” focused on female characters—mothers, daughters, lovers, murderers, widows, and explorers—these four new tracks center on their male counterparts. As for the music, yes, it’s steeped in doom, but it also lends itself to prog, black metal, and even English-style folk rock that adds a nice rustic texture to the music. Fans of bands such as SubRosa and Giant Squid could find a lot to like here, and the band—bassist/vocalist Lucas Gadke (Blood Ceremony), violinist/vocalist Laura C. Bates (Fresh Snow), and drummer James Payment (Do Make Say Think)—puts on a compelling, riveting performance over these four, involved epics.
“Breaker of Silence” is the 15:07-long opener that comes in with chimes and choral calls. A long mystical section is broken up by bass poking in, female-driven wordless calls, and haunting strings sweeping into the scene. As it goes on, the pace lights up, the song gets noisier, and a chamber-style fury is roused, as wild howls send power. From there, the strings quake, and melodies swell taking the song to its end. “Breaker of Skulls” is punchy and doom-infested, with hypnotic playing, gurgly growls, and a dark, thorny ambiance. The track settles into psyche waters, letting your mind wander and examine the terrain, while the strings stir and glide, and guitars go from a buzz to a glimmer. Harsh growls and gut-wrenching cries meet, while the song slowly burns away.
“Breaker of Oaths” is lush and delicate at the start, with whispers swirling and a dreamy fog settling in. But then the peace is ruptured, and the song tears itself apart. Soulful singing hits hard and deep, while the strings swelter amid the song’s deliberate pace. As things start to even out, wordless calling emerges and shakes your insides, while lurching growls and all elements begin blazing to provide a crunchy, sooty end. Closer “Breaker of Famine” is the longest song at 16:57, but also the most sonically varied. Morose strings start the cut on its path, while the drama builds delicately and slowly, finally erupting with massive howls and our first real dose of speed. The track absolutely crushes, with strains of black metal woven in for good measure, but then the temperature get proggy and soaks in folk marshes. Strong singing and a collaborative jarring of the senses make the section feel like a darker Decemberists, while the album’s emotional high point crescendos, and thick, weepy strings lead the song to its finish.
Two records in, Völur already are proving to be one of metal’s more interesting bands, one that finds its own ways and bends sound to suit their needs. “Ancestors” is a massive record, one that is most effective when it is consumed front to back in a single sitting. You’ll run the gamut of emotions and styles, and when the music is over, you’ll probably be heaving on the edge of your seat, waiting to see where this band goes with their next adventure.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/VolurDoom/
To buy the album, go here: http://en.prophecy.de/pre-order-bundles/
For more on the label, go here: http://en.prophecy.de/