Vilkacis unleash bloody danger, blistering, melodic darkness on debut ‘Beyond the Mortal Gate’

Hunting through the woods at night, with only your senses to guide you and potential death at each corner might not be an exciting way to go for all people. I’m one of those. I’d probably roll into a ball until the light. But some people have these fight-to-survive instincts that would be ideally employed battling their way through wild conditions.

It’s not necessarily that Vilkacis’ sole creator M. Rekevic is prowling at night, knife in mouth, waiting for the kill, but the music he makes would lead one to assume perhaps he’s always on the hunt. The band’s debut full-length record “Beyond the Mortal Gate” sounds like a primitive, bloodthirsty blast of violence that sounds like it is inspired by something savage and menacing. These six songs are punishing and deadly, proving to be relentless out to outright destroy (this is the first music since 2013 debut EP “The Fever of War”). Yet, there is a nice bit of melody packed into these tracks that provide a glimmer of light, or at least some colors that add dashes to the outright blackness. Rekevic is well known from his work in other projects including Fell Voices, Vanum, Vorde, and Yellow Eyes, but his assaults here are blacker and morbid, a hammering display that could leave your flesh bruised and bleeding.

“Snowfall By Torchlight” is a relatively quiet (so, totally misleading) introduction into what you’re about to face, as you’re bathed in serene guitars and keys before the beast that is “Defiance” tears the world apart. This thing tears open with reckless abandon, as melodic riffs make their way through the chaos and mix with Rekevic’s raw growls that reek of menace. The savage assault blasts out spiraling riffs, allowing the pace to twist some as the onslaught continues. The track hammers, but it also lets interesting colors flood your mind, as everything ends in fire and ash. “Sixty-Three” lets riffs rain down and soak the ground, while a crazed assault follows, and the wild shrieks destroy any hopes of sanity. The power here is flattening and frightening, with the song animalistically taking to bone and flesh, the punishing chorus giving off primal punk power, and the final moments soaking in acid.

“Spiritual Retribution” blasts off, with wrenching screams, channeled riffs, and your nerves being flooded. Strong melodies take hold, one element that continues to provide light in the thickening darkness, while the growls bring menace, and the carnage pulls back a bit. The growls continue to scar, while the guitars go off, and the track disappears into the murk. “Boundless Spell of Realization” has more spirited riffs, tempos that trample, and growls that sound like they were released from a diseased throat. The track splatters and sprawls while the guitars carve their path with violence, and a slight halt gives away to a more delirious assault that mangles all the way to the end. The closing title track is the longest song, clocking in at 10:03, and it begins clean and serene before eerie guitars land, and the song erupts. Raspy growls scrape their messages, while the soloing catches fire and creates a blaze from which you must shield your eyes. The back end has stampeding melodies, growls that aim to kill, and spiraling riffs that pull you into the vortex.

Rekevic’s Vilkacis project stands out from his other work in my myriad other bands, which is apparent from just a few drops of “Beyond the Mortal Gate.” It’s not so radically different that followers of his other bands can’t relate; it’s just an ample increase in the savagery that it might come as an initial shock. This record is punishing and unforgiving, a brutal journey no matter how many times you visit, and a damaging gash to anyone hoping to find an accessible avenue to black metal. This isn’t it, and we couldn’t be more thankful for that.

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