The recently expanded black metal unit deliver a transcendental sonic experience.
Four years since their debut record Realm of Sacrifice, New Mexico's VANUM has now followed up with Ageless Fire, set to release on February 15, 2019 via Profound Lore. The illustrious record hasn't left our sound system since first receiving it, giving us the opportunity to indulge in it's wonders under every circumstance. Countless listens later and it's clear that the label has another excellent release on their hands. Let's dive in.
As soon as the needle hits the record, we commence our experience with a gust of wind that echoes into our first taste of melody. What began as a solemn introduction then erupts into an uproarious display of drumming and guitar melodies from the great beyond, elements prevalent throughout the record. This instrumental opener, War, serves as a proper introduction to this six-track excursion of wonder. The track comes to a close with the sounds of bells ringing, fading away into darkness. As you begin to settle, Jaws of Rapture comes rushing in with turbulence. Adrenaline is brought forth by this first released single, radiating life and promising energy. The crisp, thunderous production allows the music to come alive with it's own heart beat pulsating with every kick of the drum. Jaws of Rapture just embodies melodic aggression so well, you can't help but feel your spirits rise. Transitioning onward, we arrive at our peak with Eternity, the longest track on the effort.
While it can become difficult to identify a climax with on a record this layered and full of depth, we'd conquer that Eternity would be the front runner. A track comprised of high and low tempos, it merges two opposite extremes to a perfect unison. As turbulent and electrifying as the first half is, the harmonious segments at the midpoint establish a heartfelt harmony capable of moving any mortal soul. Despite the lack of vocals towards the second half of this composition, the livelihood of the music bursts with triumph and reaches depths beyond measure, similar to the qualities of say AGALLOCH. As one track flows to the next with ease, it's evident that there's a story to be told and this isn't simply a record made by throwing tracks in random fashion.
As Eternity comes to a close, we reach Under the Banner of Death. The most explosive track on the record, it consists of thunderous crashes and painful roars intertwined with some of the strongest melodies, emitting power from deep within. If you're not screaming 'Under the banner of death, I am alive' from the top of your lungs by the end of this, I recommend visiting a cardiologist to check up on your heartbeat. The vociferous qualities of this piece are uplifting and alter the senses of one who takes the opportunity to listen. The title track then follows with more spiritual serenity and radiation of wonder. If there's a track that embodies the identity of Ageless Fire, it's the title track. Expect more of the fine balance established on Eternity. It's clear that lots of heart went into composing this.
The Ageless Fire experience ends with Erebus, a word some know as representative to the Greek deity of darkness. Though the shadowy aspects of this brief instrumental certainly embody this darkness, I can't help but feel a sense of hope as the composition comes to a close. No drums on this piece, just gentle guitar melodies that transcend the physical being. What began and consisted of an eruption of emotions has now been extinguished, fading away into solace and reaching eternal peace.
VANUM have captured the triumphant black metal flame on Ageless Fire, setting the mind ablaze through resounding musicianship and spirit. With melody at the forefront, the recently expanded quartet unleash a barrage of emotions capable of instilling a motivating force into anyone willing to listen. Two records in and VANUM have reached a level of musical excellence that commands a listen from fans beyond the black metal spectrum. A record this grand demands your full, undivided attention.
Overall score: 9.5/10
FFO: Void Omnia, Ash Borer, Woe, Anicon
Ageless Fire is out February 15, 2019 via Profound Lore. Order your copy here before it's too late and stream Under The Banner of Death and Jaws of Rapture on Bandcamp.