Steel Druhm doesn’t ask for much. Beyond undying devotion to the Angry Metal Guy website and Steel Druhm personally, I expect so little. In a rare moment of selfishness however, I deigned to demand more innovation in the field of black metal music. Predictably, much brouhaha ensued and I was labeled a rabble-rouser, blasphemer and enemy of the scene. Happily, I can now report my heartfelt demand has been masterfully answered by a crew of Aussie upstarts by the name of Vyrion. Never heard of them? Don’t feel bad, I didn’t either until I stumbled upon them quite by chance. It was a fortuitous stumble indeed, for their self titled debut is a mammoth slab of progressive blackness with scads of death, doom, traditional metal and post rock blended in seamlessly. After only a few minutes of listening, I knew this was something special. Across the length of this interesting creature are myriad surprises, twists and turns and the end result is an exceptionally well done and very heavy slice of innovation. For those who regard black metal as a static art form, immune to the fickle influences of time and trend, this will be like a loathsome disease. If however, you agree with me that the genre is badly in need of a newness injection, don’t let this one fall through the cracks.
After a suitable moody intro, “Ever Rising Platform” introduces you to the regal, yet heavy style Vyrion will be pummeling you with. They employ an eclectic mix of traditional Scandinavian black metal mixed with death gurgles, gruff and clean singing and copious doom influences. On this track in particular, the gruff, tortured semi-singing sits exceptionally well alongside the bleak, discordant dirge segments. These in turn are broken up by blast beatery and ugly trem riffs. The back and forth and give and take is disorienting at first but wonderfully conceived and powerfully emotional. Followup “Mortal Frame” is based more around traditional black metal but mixes in some death influence in the vocals andÂ riffing akin to the FloridaÂ Death Metal sound.Â One of the stranger cuts comes with “The Decider,” which bounces between black and death while featuring a melodic, cleanly sung chorus and goth-metal sensibilities. Post-rock rears its minimalist head in tracks like “Winter Vector” and “The Silence,” and both have a slight Agalloch vibe floating in and out of consciousness. The oddest duck in the row is likely “Disengage,” which blasts and burns with furious black metal but drops in an unexpectedly uber-melodic chorus and later brings in guttural death vox and Gothenburg style guitar-work for added insanity. Also worth noting is the moody heaviness of “The Decision” and the creepy tension of “Sole Remainder.” The songs are all heavy enough to please extreme music fans and a few rage like tigers and rhinos trapped together in a sack.
Although all the songs appear to be patchworks of divergent styles at first, the genius of Vyrion becomes readily apparent in the way they stitch the pieces together into effective, memorable songs. With so many ingredients dumped into the pot, it would easy to wind up with a soupy, incoherent mess. Fortunately, this is far from that. The elements flow together smoothly and while the transitions do surprise at times, they make total sense after a few listens.
The diverse vocal styles are handled by Dale Williams and Chris Cox and although I don’t know who does what style, they both deserve big respect (I especially love the gruff singing). Similarly, the guitar-work by Williams and Mark Boyce is top-notch and compelling. They craft a series of compelling black and death riffs and even work in some sedate, almost jazzy moments that work well. The album’s sound is a bit empty and hollow like a black metal release, but it fits with the music well enough.
I love being blown away by unknown bands and that’s exactly what Vyrion did. This is a band to watch and watch closely. If you like your extreme music served with original and innovative ideas, this will be a welcome surprise for you as well. Given the non-existent buzz and geographic isolation facing this release, the word must be gotten out to the Angry Metal Hordes! Give it a listen and if you like it, spread the news far and wide. Steel Druhm demands that you support quality underground metal! And I ask for so little.