Greetings, you beautiful Abyss reader!
Ever feel completely ill-equipped to handle a task that you know you have to complete?
Whether it’s a project on the honey-do list that’s just a bit above your skill level, or an assignment from the boss that’s two or three steps above your pay grade, you’ve been tasked with something that, from the outset, you know you’re going to struggle with. Well, that’s right where I am as I’m typing this. And from this point forward I’m going to offer this blog to you without a single edit or correction on my part. I’m laying my inadequacies bare, so to speak, as it’s a rare occasion indeed when a piece of music renders me to the brink of being speechless.
Though I’d like to think that I can occasionally string together a few meaningful words about a song or an album, Hungary’s Vvilderness have thrown me a curve ball with the utterly breathtaking ‘Devour The Sun,’ and I’m struggling to cope with it. Here is an album that, and I’m going to take a big swing and miss spectacularly in the process, is perhaps the most beautifully bleak thing I’ve ever heard.
Vvilderness is Vvildr, and if you go to the "band’s" Facebook page you’ll find that this is 100% a one-man project. You’ll also find that Vvildr offers little personal insight into the sound that he’s creating, simply stating that this project is “Black metal for people who don’t like black metal.” I like this, a lot, as it forces a potential fan to experience the music for him or herself. What I’ll say is that Vvildr has created a landscape in relief; one that has hills and valleys that were carved with walls of fuzzed-out, post-rock guitars; and quiet, untouched dells that have been scored with chiming, plaintive and echoing arpeggios. Intermixed are Vvildr’s blackened screams that never rise above the electrified horizon; they float in the middle, rather, and in the best traditions of Shoegaze and post-rock they reward the engaged listener.
Think of this as minimalist metal. Owing at least in part to the fact that one man is responsible for everything you see and hear on 'Devour the Sun' (Yep, Vvildr is responsible for the gorgeous cover art too), this is an album that feels as though it was born out of and embraces solitude. The opening, growling and heavily modulated guitar on 'Starless Dark' paints a beautiful yet joyless picture before the simple, engaging, dare I say catchy chord progression and blast beats of 'Sol' offer us our first glimpse at the real strength of this album: it thrives on contrasts. That wave of blackened fury gives way to an echoing, positively lovely arpeggio that's better than anything Robert Smith has recorded in over two decades.
There really isn't a moment on 'Devour the Sun' where you can't glimpse some bit of subdued grace. And as I'm listening to the extended instrumental passage of 'New Earth', I realize that it is two sides of the same coin: the first acoustic and wistful, the second electrified and driving. Together they form a symbiotic relationship where one would lose its meaning without the other.
'Aftershine' closes the album and I'm taken to a place where fates are accepted, our wars lose their meanings, and we see the closing of a circle. The lead from 'Starless Dark' is reinterpreted here and I can think of no more poignant way to lay the foundation for Devour the Sun's final lyric: "to misread a sign/to remember the pain/by light defined/we all slowly fade/ to aftershine." After that I'm just a little bit better with the knowledge that I am finite, even if Vvildr meant for me to come away from this album feeling something completely different.
I’ve said before that An Abstract Illusion’s ‘Illuminate the Path’ is the gold standard against which all other beautiful metal albums shall be judged. I stand behind that, and will defend that singular recording as being one of the finest executed pieces of metal to be crafted this millennium. Devour the Sun’s beauty is of a different kind- one not born out of Illuminate's awe-inspiring grandeur, but rather out of its dark, ethereal simplicity. But the fact remains that 'Illuminate the Path' now has a companion album, and Vvilderness' 'Devour the Sun' will hold a place of distinction and honor in my record collection, maybe until I too fade away.
Too much? Ain't it great that in the magical land of 2018 you don't have to take some dude or the internet's word for it? All of Vvilderness' music, as well as his sister band Release the Long Ships, can be heard on Vvilderness' Bandcamp page. A quick trip to the Vvilderness Facebook page and you'll see that he's preparing several new projects, all of which I'll be following closely. I most definitely want to hear from you on this as I think this album is special and something worth talking about.
Truly great music always is.
Vvilderness- "Devour The Sun" Single