Encircle The Spectral Dimension
Review by Vladimir on June 10, 2023.
For those reading this article, if you are a die-hard fan of symphonic black metal bands such as Emperor, Limbonic Art, Odium, Obtained Enslavement etc, but you haven’t got the chance to hear this band, then you might want to stick around for this one. The band in question is a Finnish symphonic black metal project Vargrav, which is led by two well-known Finnish black metal musicians V-Khaoz and Werwolf. The band released their new EP Encircle The Spectral Dimension via Werewolf Records on April 16th, with a total of 4 tracks. The EP contains 2 new songs, a live version of 'Netherstorm' and a cover of Emperor’s 'Ancient Queen' (only available on CD release). I remember back in 2019 when I came across Vargrav by accident, or in this case sheer luck, which was around the time when the second album Reign In Supreme Darkness was released and got an overwhelming praise for being a spiritual successor to Emperor’s classic debut album "In The Nightside Eclipse". The album successfully captured that same magic of symphonic black metal which Emperor made back in 1993 and sadly never really revisited in their following years. However, some of that cosmic magic was still very much alive throughout the rest of the 90’s, survived by bands such as Limbonic Art, Obtainted Enslavement and Odium, but luckily Vargrav brought it back in the 2000s. I almost completely missed out on their new EP, so I luckily jumped to check it out as soon as possible to see if Vargrav is still going strong after 4 years since their triumphant release.
Once again, Vargrav takes their symphonic black metal to a journey far beyond the great vast forest, with blast beats, double-bass drumming and tremolo picking riffs, backed up by Werwolf’s ghoulish harsh vocal, along with the powerful and epic choir keyboards on top of this majestic performance. The atmosphere on this EP is once again cosmic and mystical, where you can feel that the band applied their “Midas Touch” to create this magic. The music will transport you into a different dimension, where you’ll mentally be walking inside a dark forest on a stormy night, slowly approaching a haunted castle that resembles Minas Morgul from the Lord of the Rings. The cover of Emperor’s 'Ancient Queen' is a very nice addition on this EP, which fits nicely with the rest of the rest of the tracklist. The cover may not be as good as Emperor’s original, be it 'Wrath Of The Tyrant' or Emperor EP version, but it is still great in terms of performance and attention to details. Although the two new tracks 'Encircle The Spectral Dimension' and 'The Glory Of Eternal Night' have done an excellent job at grabbing your attention and pulling you towards an otherworldly plane of existence, I do have to admit that I have one small issue with this EP. My main issue is the live version of 'Netherstorm', because production-wise, the live recording doesn’t quite fit all too very with the two new tracks and the cover of 'Ancient Queen', being somewhat too distracting and less fitting than the rest. Overall if you take out the live version of 'Netherstorm', you might still be able to enjoy this release and be satisfied with what it has to offer. The EP’s sound production is very solid and done in a somewhat similar style to the previous album Reign In Supreme Darkness, closely resembling something that could have easily been found in the 90’s black metal catalog.
The entire EP provides a nice glimpse at Vargrav’s future within the black metal world, and it might be teasing a new full-length release. Hopefully we won’t be waiting too long to get a new album by Vargrav, but for now stick to this EP and their earlier releases, and feel free to check them out in case you haven’t.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10701