“Do you realize that if you fall into a black hole, you will see the entire future of the Universe unfold in front of you in a matter of moments and you will emerge into another space-time created by the singularity of the black hole you just fell into?” Neil deGrasse Tyson probably didn’t picture those words describing the unfolding, infinity of one-man black metal artist Vardan‘s latest journey into heartbreak and isolation, but they certainly do. Enjoy of Deep Sadness is chronologically the twelfth release in the Italian band’s soupy discography that mixes raw black metal with dingy distorted atmospherics and delicate broken melodies to create a depressive blackened experience whispering messages of anti-life, darkness, depression and self-hatred. Can a one-man band really deliver all that promise in just three tracks or 36 minutes?
The answer is yes. Until this week I’d never come across Vardan and had no inkling of his two or three album releases a year. In a way I think that’s probably a good thing, because while … Dreaming… Living My Funeral is a decent listen and its follow up The Wood is My Coffin has some interesting moments, Enjoy of Deep Sadness cuts far deeper and encompasses more integration and cohesion than those earlier releases. Moving past the buzzy, distorted intro of “A Broken Existence” or the sharp siren-like opener of the title track, Vardan‘s vocals are so much improved on this album it’s almost tough to comprehend. The man of the hour no longer attacks his vocals higher up in the mucky foreground, instead in Enjoy of Deep Sadness the vocals become almost a dingy, engulfing layer forming part of the instrumentation much like those of MXM (An Autumn for Crippled Children). They very seldom exceed the level of a ghostly whisper and I can’t think of a single instance off-hand where you’re able to hear the lyrics push through. For the most part, as in the title track, the voices roar, or even collectively shout at you, quietly from every direction with their dark as hell throaty, retching insanity, making you question whether you’ve actually heard them or not.
Musically the journeys Vardan takes you on are not in the least bit complex. The tracks are loaded with melodic guitar work that entangles itself in your memory, drawing you in deeper and deeper so that the darkness can get a tighter, barb wire-like stranglehold on you. They’re the simplest of melodies and oft times even feel slightly borrowed from early Ulver or Agalloch, and despite the cutting sharpness Vardan used on the reworked melodies, Pale Folklore danced in and out of my mind at odd times while listening to Enjoy of Deep Sadness. Outside of these simple, but well played melodies, Vardan‘s drum-work lacks any big and dramatic fills. There’s absolutely no show-boating here, it’s all just layer upon layer of brutally simple, raw, honest emotion hitting you solidly from the start of “A Broken Existence” through to the bitterly isolated cries at the end of “An Abstract Voice.”
The three tracks, although lengthy at over 11 minutes each, don’t drag their heels and there’s enough post-metal space, influence and delicacy that the music ebbs and flows taking on the feeling of a watery journey, carrying you from one location to the next. The production is raw and thick and much as one would expect from these stereotyped one-man black metal bands. Where Vardan have stepped out of the shadows though is in clarifying selected moments in each track to deliver variety in the vocals and in the melodic guitar layers driving home the importance of each note.
Enjoy of Deep Sadness is packed to the hilt with emotion and has an honesty and a maturity that Vardan lacked in earlier releases. It’s in no way ground breaking but if you enjoy your black metal knife sharp to the point that it leaves you with cuts right down to the bone then this release is just for you. Check it out!