Nothing annoys me more than when artists hype up their work beyond perceivable notions. You know what I’m talking about. “It needed to be visceral.” (adorable, Linkin Park.) “…unique, not following trends” (right, Savn?) It’s just better for everyone involved to just shut the hell up and let the music do all the communication for you instead of throwing out false pretenses in hopes that maybe someone out in the Nethersphere will somehow agree with you. In other words, take a note from Germany’s Vehemenz, who have managed to grab my attention and kept me musically fixated and grinning ear-to-ear with their self-titled debut 5-song EP, all without overhyping the ever-loving shit out of it.
Dissonant strumming kicks off “Bote des Nicht”, and already there’s an atmosphere of bleak darkness. At once, it recalls the older work of fellow countrymen Bethlehem and modern-day Agrypnie, but also the earlier works of Enslaved and even a hint of Opeth in some of the cleaner passages. Furor’s galloping drumming and tasteful blasts keeps things energetic throughout the album, even evoking some groove when needed. But it’s the frenetic riffing by the three-guitar tandem (yes, three guitarists, ladies and gents) of Monolith Aversion, Letharg, and Aquarius Igneus that grabs you by the throat and refuses to let go, especially that final riff that sounds like a blackened version of the intro riff to Dream Theater‘s “Pull Me Under”.
There isn’t a second wasted on this entire EP. “Fragment I” possesses an almost swing beat with some great tremolo picking and vocalist Inclusis providing some truly hellish screams, before the band launches into a nice groove around the 1:21 mark. Their command of dissonance is of near-Blut Aus Nord quality, giving a nice, dark, eerie feeling throughout the song. But it’s the 9-minute finale, “Der Traum… im Chaos Vereint” that will steal your soul away. Leading with a misleadlingly peaceful intro, it goes full-blast shortly after, with one of the most beautiful black metal melodies at the 2:34 mark that most bands would absolutely kill for, riffs for fucking days throughout the song’s entirety, and a calm retrospective ending that will have you begging for more. One of the best long songs I have ever heard in my entire life, gang.
Also impressive is the actual production on the record. Somehow, with all the blasting and the guitars going apeshit, you can still hear Obscurus’s finger-picked basslines with crystal clear definition. If there was a knock on the album, it would be that you can’t really tell there’s three guitarists playing simultaneously on this record. However, that is such a minor, tiny mark against a very impressive EP.
Five months into 2014, and I have a new favorite album. Vehemenz have a very long, promising career ahead of them early in the game, and it’s truly in your best interest to pick up this EP. This is a case of a band avoiding the fluff, and going full bore on your ears and soul. Essential.