Draugnim VulturineI’m not going to lie. I chose to review this promo on the basis that Draugnim sounds like Draugr – an entity which should be familiar to fellow Elder Scrolls nerds. On this basis, I predicted vaguely folkloric Scandinavian black metal. Indeed, Vulturine boasts Finnish Pagan metal similar to a popular band whose new album is also soon to drop.

You like Moonsorrow right? Everyone likes Moonsorrow. Draugnim likes Moonsorrow. Nowhere is this more evident that on opener “That Name is Hate.” It’s clear as soon as the typical ‘falling rain’ introduction passes into meaty, blasting black metal, but particularly as the track picks up at the 1:44 mark. The guitar tone and melody is so incredibly similar that I could easily have been convinced it was actually Moonsorrow‘s new material.

To be fair, as Vulturine progresses it’s distanced from such overt homages. Melodic black metal is the name of this dish: it has a slightly epic flavor and there are a couple of delicious cuts. Second track, “As in Hunger, so in Demise,” seriously steps up after 3 minutes and accelerates into several razor-sharp riffs. “Drums of Black Death” is another highlight, developing its inter-locking melodies throughout before intensifying at its conclusion. These 2 songs absolutely rip, with a weighty, bass-heavy mix, strong melodic sensibilities and ferocious vox.

It’s a shame, then, that the remainder cannot match this level. It would be over-zealous to assert that only the aforementioned tracks are worthwhile but the other 3 don’t progress beyond pleasant. Despite their attempted brutality, all they amount to is a gentle, superficial glaze over your lower faculties – I found myself unable to focus on them specifically and merely enjoyed them in the background as I was engaged in other activities. They don’t demand your attention in a way that I can truly endorse. The riffs aren’t forceful enough, the melodies not memorable enough and the track developments never become engaging enough.

Draugnim 2016Cultivating this point, I definitely feel like Draugnim aren’t quite as heavy or evil as they intend to be. The macabre song names (see above), Biblical quotes on their Bandcamp and intentionally perverse cover art (the Latin translates to ‘While there is life, there is hope’ which is unsubtly juxtaposed by the lifeless skeletons) would all suggest svper trve black metal intent on unremitting darkness. Instead, Vulturine is quite pleasant. Pleasant isn’t a great descriptor for a metal band and less so a black metal band. I would prefer for the whole to be rawer, more sinister and more challenging.

Another black mark against their name is the production. The dynamic range score of 7 obfuscates a reality blemished by severe clipping. It isn’t severe throughout but rears its ugly head at particularly inopportune moments – namely those where the music escalates at its most epic passages. “Drums of Black Death,” which I love musically, is crippled by popping noises and sounding flatter than it should. All this is exacerbated by my being on a Camel kick recently, which sounds so bright, vibrant and dynamic by comparison.

I’ve been stern but these guys nearly have it. Two tracks are excellent and the rest just need their song-writing sharpened slightly: slicker hooks and a slightly blacker outlook would go a long way. An improved production job would assuredly help too. Perhaps next time.

Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: v1-v2 VBR mp3
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: www.facebook.com/draugnim
Release dates: EU: 2016.03.11 | NA: 04.01.2016

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  • Brother Ben

    Props for the Elder Scrolls reference

    • Feytalist

      A draugr is also a pre-existing creature from Norse mythology, so, you know, there is that.

      • El_Cuervo

        I’m aware of that but only after having played Skyrim.

      • Brother Ben

        The Norse appropriated the Nordic culture of Skyrim ;)

  • Reese Burns

    That band photo is pretty sweet… But I’ll reserve judgement of the music until I listen to the album in full.

  • Stuart Stratu

    My comment is purely regarding your opening sentence – it reminds me of Pancake Master from Dudes Magazine writing about people who like to start sentences with “I’m not gonna lie, but…” When this happens, Pancake jumps in and says, “I didn’t think you were gonna lie…” and points out that these idiots can be assumed to be otherwise lying unless they use this dumbass stipulation.

  • To add to the “trying very hard to be evil,” the album sells for 6.66 Euros.

    • That’s a thing Debemur Morti does for all of their albums on Bandcamp, I think.

  • A pity that the tracks reviewed as not-so-great aren’t streamable. I rather like the two that are.

    • Feytalist

      As of right now, the entire album is streamable from Bandcamp.

      • It wasn’t yesterday… I’m not crazy, I swear!
        Thanks for the heads up though, I’ll check the rest out.

  • Blueberry Balls

    It must be done.

    • Brother Ben

      Thanks to you, there is justice in this world

  • William Hebblewhite

    A band that sounds Like Moonsorrow, but doesnt live up to the expectation that Moonsorrow garners just makes me want to listen to Moonsorrow, and play Skyrim again

  • In my ears Draugnim plays moody atmospheric viking metal. Blackened pagan might work as an indication as well. Of the top of my head I’d recommend Vulturine to fans of Skogen and Fen, just to mention two random bands that revel in comparable calm and moody landscapes. I see the link to Moonsorrow too, albeit not their most elder outings, perhaps. This is dreamy, floating and soaring music, even if intense instrumentation lays in the foundation. Attempting to comparing it with black metal will sort of misfire.
    The melodies and overall structuring of this dish (best served at misty sea) could have been a bit stronger, but it’s a pleasant and gloomy ride.

    • Feytalist

      Word. The Skogen comparison is definitely there. Fen, maybe not so much, but I can see where you’re coming from. And I like both of those bands, and I like this.

      Comparing any band to Moonsorrow will generally end unfavorably for the band being compared, but these guys still do a great job I think.

      • No huge similarities, especially not to Fen who goes in a more post-black direction, more of a general comparison, or rather directional hint, just to point out that Draugnim lean more toward the atmospheric than the black what styles concerns.

        • Ernesto Aimar

          They sounded much more like Summoning in their previous albums, specially in “Northwind’s Ire”, but here they do have changed to something more pagan blackened-ish. Nice album, strong band to keep under our radars.

  • hallowed

    I find this music very satisfying. Will buy.

  • Feytalist

    Been listening to the two teaser tracks for a while now, so yeah, I’ve been looking forward to this.

    I don’t think that they should necessarily go any “blacker”; you don’t want to suppress the melodic undertones too much. But yeah, if they can keep the momentum up throughout the album and clean up the sound a little bit, they could go far.

    Oh and by the way, the Biblical quotes on the Bandcamp is a Debemur Morti thing (like the price), and not anything to do with the band.

  • Zadion

    “The Name Is Hate” sounds *really* good. I think I might get this despite the lukewarm review.

  • Dobbie03

    I like this….a lot.

  • Guillotine of Papal Crowns

    “(…)I found myself unable to focus(…)”
    “(…)merely enjoyed them in the background as I was engaged in other activities(…)”
    “(…)They don’t demand your attention in a way that I can truly endorse(…)”

    Like Skyrim… There, I SAID IT AND I REGRET NOTHING.

  • mtlman1990

    This album is fantastic.

  • Meat Tornado

    Yeah I normally think El Cuervo does a good job, but this review is wrong. Sorry. I feel like most of the people commenting also feel this way. This is a solid 4/5, pushing 4.5/5. Excellent album.