What is doom? The dictionary defines it as “death, destruction, or some other terrible fate.” Black Sabbath attempted, and most obviously succeeded, in transferring their fascination with nuclear annihilation and dystopian worlds into music. Dread, despair, and impending doom were forged when Tony Iommi dragged his world-weary, calloused, and disfigured hands over the steel of his signature Epiphone. What is doom metal, then, when the lead guitar is replaced by the dreamy and ethereal violin? How can dread and despair pass through the strings of a fragile violin? Experimental doom trio Völur – made up of a drummer, bassist, and violinist – describe doom music as being “about slow contemplation and the transfixing power of heaviness” and they attempt to grasp this through the varied use of violins and cellos.  Formed in Toronto, Ontario, Ancestors is the second album of a four-album series, continuing the loose concept of spotlighting various elements of the old Germanic world. Ancestors focuses on the men of these sagas, presenting their stories of heroism and death through the vehicle of the violin.

Ancestors consists of four long tracks, the shortest running at just over ten minutes, that descends from a sense of calm and controlled contemplation to a gushing and unrestrained heaviness. Fifteen-minute opener “Breaker of Silence” opens dreamily: the fragile clank of wind chimes, the deep reverberations of a cello, and feathery siren-like vocals interlace like layers of fog. Steadily, it builds until naturally it begins to rupture. At the four-minute mark the terse and expressive twang of the bass – played by Blood Ceremony’s Lucas Gadke – merges with the naked simplicity of the drums. It picks up in intensity stealthily; the bass begins to maraud, the drums grow to an aggressive stomp, and the stringed instruments cast harsher layers of friction. At the eight-minute mark “Breaker of Silence” is a storm of interlaced clean vocals – male and female -, scratching violin sounds, harsh growls, fuzzified bass lines and clashing drums. Duel violins clash as the dissonant merges with the melodic. The first six-minutes serves its purpose and the final four-minutes, a contemplative conclusion, adds little to the preceding.

“Breaker of Skulls” is heavier once again. The bass carries the weight of four guitars as its fuzz merges with the soaring sharpness of violins. Oddly dissonant bass lines, sounding somewhat like communications from an alien vessel, merge with harsh growls, fragmented violin lines, and bass-heavy drumming. The song layers harsh ambient noise and fuzz to uneasy effect. The violins fluctuate between out-of-tune and dissonant to wonderfully clear and sweet. As the song builds to its end, the violin unravels in such a pristine manner that clean guitar tones seep from its fragile strings. An extended solo, sombre and melancholy, soars and comes to a crashing and intense end.

The stringed instruments take centre stage during “Breaker of Oaths,” too, as a rich cinematic opening of violins, stand-up bass, cellos, and pianos merge with disembodied, witch-like whisperings and scratching background noise. As with most of the album, it’s this subtle interweaving of sounds, wrapping the listener in its cocoon of misery, that works so well. When the song does get going at the three-minute mark it all becomes less immersive and rather tedious. A simple bass-led throb, accompanied by generic sounding violins and wispy male vocals, continues for four uninspiring minutes. The song then falls apart completely, jumping between roughly segmented moments of airy folk, noise, beauty, sullenness, and 90s inspired death-doom. “Breaker of Oaths” suffers the most from not having a guitar to fill the gaps.

Final track, the sixteen-minute “Breaker of Famine,” is the heaviest sonically. The bass droops and cranks at a subterranean layer, cellos moan, violins morph into wind-like cries, feedback looms, tempos unnaturally shift, and a general sense of unease flutters through the mix before an explosion of death-flavoured noise occurs. A whirlwind of feedback, growls, and incessant drumming suffocates before the song segues organically into a Sabbath-esque section of plodding grooves and bluesy licks. For the first time there’s a real sense of fist-pumping energy, however the final six-minutes reverts back to the flowery inconsistency of “Breaker of Oaths,” failing to strike a profound chord.

Ancestors sounds excellent. It’s given the space to spread its tendrils of doom consistently. It is, however, an album that shows many signs of excellence, but this excellence is accompanied by underdeveloped and rough sections that fail to stabilize it. Looseness and inconsistency of structure makes Ancestors a difficult album to take in. Songs could be shortened and progressions polished. Völur definitely have something unique here and they’re certainly a band to  keep a close eye on.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prophecy Productions
Websitesvolur.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/VolurDoom
Releases Worldwide: June 2nd, 2017

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    Nice. Brings back memories of The Visit.

    Also, it seems to be Canada week here at AMG. So far we’ve had Kobra and the Lotus (Alberta), Unleash the Archers (B.C.), and now Völur (Ontario). Seven provinces and three territories left to go.

    • Diego Molero

      I love The Visit, I even bought that album, but I find this to be rather boring.

      • basenjibrian

        I like The Visit, but don’t see the comparison.

        The Visit is more chamber music-not really metal at all.

        The album at hand? Definitely “metal,” despite some chamber music-y sections.

        It really grew on me as I listened. I would say 3.5.

        • Diego Molero

          I don’t think he meant the comparison in the music itself, but on the feel.
          I haven’t listen to this album on full, but since you said it grew on you, I will give it a chance.

          • basenjibrian

            Ah. Fair enough!
            I like’em both, so!
            I have had a major, major problem this month. The problem with the internet is it is just so EASY to buy music. With a click of a mouse while sitting at work. Bad, bad bad temptation!

    • David D.

      I expect my aboriginal black metal from Nunavut within the hour.

  • Violins and doom is more a sub Rosa thing but I know this site hates that band so whateva. Sub Rosa got me into doom.

    • basenjibrian

      Check out Grayceon. It’s a cello, not a violin, but.

      • Diego Molero

        Great band, love them, but I wouldn’t say they are doom. Still, definitely worth checking.

      • Thatguy

        Not the cello!

        • basenjibrian

          Bwahahahahaha! The cello will be playing as the various demons drag us all (except for Musica ex Diabolus, of course) (LOL) down to our eternal punishment!

      • jetblindracos

        Thanks for the tip.

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Who hates Sub Rosa on here?! That band is amazing. Madness!

      • basenjibrian

        2.0 was the score for “Mighty”. :)

  • rumour_control

    “…it’s this subtle interweaving of sounds, wrapping the listener in its cocoon of misery, that works so well.”–really good imagery in a sharp review. Thank you.

    • Akerblogger

      Thanks rumour, you’re always very supportive throughout the site.

  • I think I need to check this out a bit closer.

    By the way. Cydemind from Montreal recently released an album named Erosion where the violin is in the saddle. The band’s melodic instrumental progressive metal was a bait too neat and tidy for me, but you could check it out for yourself through their Bandcamp profile if you want.

    • Akerblogger

      Thanks for the rec. I’m always on the look out for violins and other stringed instruments used well in metal.

      Obviously there’s Carach Angren and Septicflesh on the grandiose and theatrical side, and a multitude of up-beat folk-metal bands who integrate violins in a rather tedious manner (most of the time), but I would like more mellow and haunting examples.

      Ne Obliviscaris, AMG’s favourite band, use violins very well too. They’re his favourite band. He loves them.

      • Here’s a few old favorites:
        Tristania – Beyond the Veil
        The Sins of Thy Beloved – Lake of Sorrow
        Both with violin performed by Pete Johansen, who also played on a few Morgul albums, including my favorite The Horror Grandeur, among others.
        And obviously, there’s a number of My Dying Bride albums with violin.
        There are of course many others, but these are the ones that come right of the top of my head.

  • Thatguy

    Well written review, and yet another band to check out. Sounds good.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Violins and doom and no one has mentioned yet My Dying Bride? How could this be?

    • Funny you should say that, for I just did. After your post, admittedly, but before I read it.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Well, I guess whenever someone says “Violins and Doom Metal” it’s just a matter of (very short) time before someone replies “My Dying Bride”.

  • You wot m8?

    This band fills a void in my musical needs that I didn’t know existed until now.

  • DukeJohn

    My violin go-to doom album will probably always be “Solar Lovers” by Celestial Season (1995).
    This is not bad though.

  • Twisted

    I really like the embedded track, it hits me just right. Seems a shame that the rest of the album might not hold up but I’ll check it out anyway. Thanks for the review.

  • Tofu muncher

    The embedded track is a good black metal song imho

  • SelfIndulgence

    You see that Zach…..it’s an upside down peace symbol.