Lord Vigo – Danse De Noir Review

A while back, my lovely girlfriend and I went to the Kelsey’s at Oxford and Gammage. It’s nestled comfortably into a strip plaza with a liquor store, a Little Caesar’s, and a wonderful Christian bookstore. This was the Kelsey’s I used to go to with my parents and younger brother when we were kids, where we’d order the special Kid’s Platter, a smattering of delicious finger foods. These days, I order a relatively creative burger and a Belgian Moon (or Blue Moon for the American reader). Nonetheless, it was great to sit in a booth in the same area we used to sit in back then, and I was reminded why I loved going out for a dinner with loved ones.

More recently, I went for a walk on a beautiful day – fifteen degrees Celsius or so – and gave Danse de Noir, the fourth record from German metallers Lord Vigo, its maiden voyage through my ears and mind. Within five minutes, I was reminded why I love this outstanding little genre called metal. Lord Vigo plays trad metal in the vein of Ram but stirs some Candlemass and Angel Witch into the mix for good measure. There’s a latent Type O Negative influence as well which sometimes makes itself rather obvious. The vocal performance is worth noting as well – it’s quirky and tonally limited but competent and remarkably charismatic, much in the vein of Angel Witch’s Kevin Heyborne or Cathedral’s Lee Dorrian, although not sounding like a clone of either.

Danse de Noir is structured interestingly, as the first six tracks alternate between sub-minute introductory pieces and full songs in a story inspired by Blade Runner. Lord Vigo keeps this engaging, and the good-natured oddness makes this A-side suite one of those special features of a standout record. The fist-pumping metal of “The Verge of Time” cleverly leaves the guitars silent in its verse, playing a nice synth melody of bass and drums. The synth stays for the chorus, but gets relegated to the background when the guitars burst in and the double-tracked vocals harmonize in a somewhat unexpected melody; this is the product of a band working with limitations in order to make them not sound like limitations – akin to how Venom and Bulldozer expertly made crudity a part of their aesthetic in their early days1. “Between Despair and Ecstasy” sees the Type O Negative influence gloriously bursting forth with something akin to a faster “Black No 1.” It’s an excellent song, and the chorus manages to simultaneously do a great guitar hook alongside a great vocal hook. There’s also a prominent cowbell in the bridge, sweetening the retro deal in a suave manner.

Try as I may, beyond mere trifles I have no worthwhile negative comments about what Lord Vigo’s done here. The post-reunion Iron Maiden melody which opens “As Silence Grows Old” helps it transition to a weighted-down Angel Witch for the verse and change into a huge doom chorus – replete with a tolling bell, naturally – where a passionate vocal performance once again demonstrates the beauty of limitations – it’s unforgettable, and a “better” singer wouldn’t come up with this. Ultimately, this is what I like most about Lord Vigo: they’re an honest band of good musicians and they play to their skills as a unit. Nobody stands out, because everyone is serving the song – in this way, I’m reminded of Angel Witch’s great Angel of Light from last year.

Perhaps the relatively modern sound present here may bother some – Danse de Noir sounds less organic than Angel of Light, to be sure – but to my ears Lord Vigo’s sound couldn’t be captured better. Guitars never drown the bass, keyboard is present when needed, and the drums leave nothing to the imagination. Vocals are allowed space but not dominance, again cementing Lord Vigo as a unit instead of a mere collection of musicians. Above all and most importantly, Danse de Noir is just plain fun. It never gets too dark melodically, but it stays away from saccharine pop tropes as well. It’s instantly identifiable as metal and aims to sound like nothing else. This is the type of record that I’d buy and spin for weeks because while it’s unoriginal in broad terms, Lord Vigo’s take on doomy trad metal has enough quirkiness that I can’t readily find another band who do the same thing just as well. It helps that the songs are all well-written, high-quality compositions, because that keeps me from wanting to look anywhere else.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: High Roller Records
Websites: facebook.com/LordVigo666 | lordvigo.bandcamp.com
Released Worldwide: April 10th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. Five points to House Diabolus for the Bulldozer reference. Headmaster Steel
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