Have you ever looked up on a clear night, no artificial light for miles around, and observed in awe the spectacular array of heavenly bodies above? Stars abundant sparkle and twinkle, all seeming minuscule in relation to the massive distances separating us from them. As you gaze upon the majesty above you can’t help but feel a strange duality between absolute wonder and crushing disappointment; wonder at the beauty nature put on display every night for millennia, and disappointment at the entirety of humanity’s wholly insignificant existence for progressively wiping out such a display from the night sky (save for but a few precious locations). This duality between wonder and disappointment is exactly what I face whenever I spin Atlanta’s Vimur’s sophomore full-length Triumphant Master of Fates.
Normally, I would drop a name or two to help the plebs get some kind of hint as to what Vimur are all about. Not today. I simply will not color these poor impressionable minds with mentions of similar artists, for all are inferior to Vimur. But suffice it to say, they play a not-to-be-fucked-around-with style of battle-ready black metal. Intricate drum patterns and bloodthirsty blasts (Ætheøs) riddle the field before you. Guitars (Vaedis Eosphorus and Australis) shimmer with all of the glory of a royal battalion’s armor and the bass (Kiehül Hesperos) rumbles underneath as would a devastating earthquake, while vocals (Vaedis again) scald with the potency of a white-hot brand. Through it all, Vimur somehow manage to cram every fucking riff imaginable into this densely packed specimen of blackened splendor.
The best part about the above paragraph is the simple fact that it’s not just an apt description of the record overall, but of every individual song as well. Triumphant Master of Fates achieves stratospheric high points in songwriting and album pacing without ever relinquishing its vice grip on my senses. From the opening salvo of “Seditious Apertures” to the twisting monstrosity of “Consumed by the Source” and the utter demolition that characterizes “Nuclear Desecration” to the final epic “Supreme Preemption of the Lightless Empire,” Vimur wastes not one second. Tempo shifts abound to keep interest levels high, and the quartet even succeeds at a blackened doom dirge with penultimate track “Our Dearest Hopes Lie Buried Here,” exposing an emotional investment to the material I wish every band possessed.
Our resident cat-man and reviewer extraordinaire Grymm recently offered wisdom on the virtues of repetition, citing its usefulness as a building mechanism for an amazing twist or a satisfying release of tension (I’m paraphrasing, of course). While his subject failed to do either of those things, mine used repetition in the best way possible: to not only build a better album, but to allow the listener to discover every small imperfection and freckle that makes Triumphant Master of Fates so beautiful. Never before have I felt so enthralled to hear the guitarists’ phalanges slide down the neck as they shift from position to position as on “Nuclear Desecration” and “Adversarial Impetus Ignition,” arguably the most repetitive track. Or perhaps I’m enamored by the sound of a snare that doesn’t sound like it’s hit in the exact same spot on the skin without fail during a long blast, affording the percussion a certain measure of humanity. Furthermore, the riffs are strong enough to not only survive, but also thrive and evolve through repetition (“Supreme Preemption of the Lightless Empire”). So while you might hear the same riff again for the fifth time in a row on a track here, you sure as shit won’t complain—you’ll likely miss it when the song denies you a sixth.
Which brings us back to the night sky. Triumphant Master of Fates exquisitely encapsulates the full, unadulterated glory of the heavens. It is a testament to what black metal can be when all of its intricate moments and natural beauty are preserved by untouchable songwriting, magnificent performances and stellar attention to detail. And much like that pure midnight sky, Vimur instill within me that confounding juxta—uhhh….I mean, conjunction—between wonder and disappointment; wonder at the singular accomplishment this still young band has unleashed upon us mortals who are certainly undeserving, and disappointment at a long roster of black metal records that now seem dull and faded by comparison.