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Spell Of Dark – The Vastness (digital album review)

I won’t say I need a break from gorenoise stuff, but we all might agree some nice variability in genres is in order, and I see we’re really low on black metal…so black metal it will be – right now and right here. And why the hell not?

So, for today we have Spell Of Dark’s new album “The Vastness” (2019) – and you might recall we did review the previous release as well, courtesy of Vlad Tsepesh, the guy behind the project. Can anyone say “Burzum worship”?

I can say it and have no problem with it at all. Musically we’re somewhere in the “Filosofem” era of Varg’s infamous project and personally I loved almost everything from Burzum’s discography up to this album (not really keen on “Det Som Engang Var”, but that’s just personal preference), therefore anything similar (or even more interesting) is right up my alley.

Anyway, we’re here not for my recollection of Burzum albums, but to see how good/bad Spell Of Dark is. And straight from the beginning we’re dealing with 7:38 long “Faraway Lands” with the hypnotic simple riffs, atmospheric keyboards, choirs, whispered vocals…I would write something now but I’m restraining myself…all I can say this stuff is really mesmerizing and I am already in need of the CD release.

Second track here is “Embrace Of Night” and we’re still in this nice, trippy, hypnotic, ambient slo-mo black metal. I like the whispering voice, and the guitar work, albeit simple (and there’s definitely nothing wrong with that) is weaving nice melodies. The last part, just after Russian spoken intermezzo, does again invoke the spirit of “Dunkelheit”, but I don’t care. This song makes me sleepy, but in a good way…it’s like getting one into the trance and dreamy state of being…oh yeah, I could go on an on, but I’d just repeat myself. 6:36 went so fast, thanks for the repeated replay!

Is this whole album being a long journey through “The Vastness”? I think I’ve mentioned it when I’d reviewed Vlad’s previous stuff, but “Dream in Frozen Desert”, apart from bringing back the memories of Quorthon/Bathory in “Twilight of the Gods” (and that’s another of my all time favourite albums), nicely describes musically one’s dragging through frozen taiga (and the keyboards in the middle just affirmed that nice Viking-like feeling)…although I sit comfortably in my warm office, the music put through enough chill to get you goosebumps. So far, the songs nicely fit into the image of the lone little house in the snow-covered land you can see on the album’s cover. And so far, I am pleased with what I hear here and even 10:35 length of this song doesn’t seem enough.

Therefore, onto a next one, titled “Eternal Withering”. And I can repeat all I’ve written above, but even it starts to sound little repetitive, I don’t really mind, for I like the mood these songs create. As they say – if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. And I don’t really want anyone bringing any “modernism” or experimenting into the ambient black metal I am listening to here. So even when this track is little below the quality of the first three, I refuse to condemn it. Because here it still means it’s great. And finally we’re getting some faster drumming in the second half of the song, if only for a while. 7:34 in length, so there’s a plenty to enjoy.

And now, the titular “The Vastness”. And while the basic framework and song structure remains the same, I quite dig the clean vocals in Russian and again, kudos for nice guitar melody. There’s a beauty in simplicity and Spell Of Dark proves it without any doubts. Yeah, vocals are great here, from the whispering to this invocation-like ones…call me over-enthusiastic, but I f*ckin love this album.

Last song here is the cover of Wojnar’s “Smutek Nocy“, which I can’t compare with original, as I don’t know it (and I am not gonna look for at the moment). Those of you more skilled in the genre would probably be able to offer a reliable comparison, for me it suffices to say that it’s a total ambient track and quite likeable, so even the end of the album is in style.

So, what to say in the end? I love this album (I’ve already said that, I know) and if you’re looking for this kind of music – the Burzum of “Filosofem”, black ambient/darkwave stuff and maybe a little dungeon synth influence, Spell Of Dark is a sure choice which won’t disappoint.

Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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