So far this short week, we’ve done a lot of going back in time to the 1990s, when death and black metal both were getting their collective legs under them and were starting to see the first strains of experimentation. Naturally, a lot of modern bands travel backward to revisit those rich terrains, and when done right, it can be a jolt to the system.
Cincinnati’s Valdrin are one of those bands, and their new record “Effigy of Nightmares” slathers you with synth-rich black metal with a side of death that keeps hammering hard the entire time. But it isn’t just a bludgeoning hammer to your skull; it also is full of imaginative playing and storytelling that help fill in the deep valleys they carve. This, their third record, continues their story of Ausadjur Mythos storyline, where they examine antagonist Nex Animus, who this time is working in a nightmarish hospital torturing and lobotomizing gods who dwell in his domain. The band—guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Carter Hicks, guitarist Colton Deem, bassist James Lewis, and drummer Ryan Maurmeier—works their magic making this record both heavy and compelling, and they do it in economical fashion with six tracks spread over a half an hour. It gets in and gets out and leaves you devastated.
“Gates of Hospice” is a quick intro cut that has pianos dripping, rain falling, and eerie whispers that hint at the horrors ahead. That leads to “Exsanguination Tunnels” where keys enter and then the fray is unleashed. Shrieks rain down as an orchestral array explodes behind everything, and guttural shrieks shake the foundation. Melodies smother and churn before the synth returns to the mix, and the playing hammers away before a huge storm closes things. “Red Burning Candles of Hatred” lights up and explodes, while the synth arrives like sheets of precipitation, leaving your face soaked and you blind. Guitars charge and deliver the fury, spilling blood and opening up a stampeding charge. Maniacal vocals twist away at your brain while the leads punch through walls, while the final moments are huge and drive you into a dangerous corner.
“Serpentine Bloodhalls” has guitars plinking and a synth gaze spreading while the guitars flow into a pocket of whispers. Acoustics move in as the track gets into proggy territory, and a cloud of cold gasses takes hold and knocks you out. “Basilisk of Light” swells and bursts at the seams as the drums crush and the growls suffocate. The leads hit gigantic highs as the vocals match the intensity, and nasty shrieks pummel. The track hits a maniacal pace before hypnosis takes over, and that eats its way into your psyche. The growls land blows again as the soloing ignites with everything ending in an exploratory melt. “Down the Oubliette of Maelstrom” is the closer and has a mystifying start before things turn gruff and mean. Keys explode as guitars rampage over top, and the leads send things charging while that force takes things into more prog territory. The track keeps flying at reckless tempo before the playing fades into warped oblivion.
Valdrin is onto something with “Effigy of Nightmares,” the absolute high point of their run so far. They’ve spent a decade perfecting their approach toward ’90s-styled black metal and have done so with an eye toward freshness and technical mastery. This is a really strong piece of work from this Cincy band, and this should grab people’s attention by force.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/valdrinausadjur
To buy the album, go here: http://shop.bloodharvest.se/?s=valdrin&post_type=product
For more on the label, go here: http://www.bloodharvest.se/