Wampyric Rites – The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre Review

In the night they come, seeking wengeance. Nocturnal creatures bent on destruction, chaos, and wiolence. No matter how much wiolence and wengeance is wrought, they are never sated – they are always wery sad. Such is The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre. At least I think it is anyway, because at the risk of sounding like your mother when you showed her that cool new Carcass band with that Heartwork record you just downloaded from Limewire back when you were a teenager, I can’t understand a word of what’s being sung here; it just sounds like wordless screaming. That’s no matter though, as Wampyric Rites aren’t really about the lyrics in my estimation. The brand of nocturnal, nefarious, Nosferatu emission from Wampyric Rites is primarily focused on atmosphere.

Before anyone gets too worried that I’m just reviewing nature sounds masquerading as black metal, the atmosphere Wampyric Rites is attempting here is one of the old and cold black metal of the second wave. This is less earnestly raw than Gorgoroth’s essential Under the Sign of Hell or Darkthrone’s equally if not more essential Transylvanian Hunger, sounding from a production standpoint like rawness was superimposed in post. Regardless, it’s a decent sound and ticks off a bunch of second wave boxes everyone likes, and can reasonably be compared in sound to Gorgoroth, Darkthrone, old Emperor (sans symphonics), old Immortal, and perhaps even Taake. For modern comparators, I’m tempted to invoke Lothric but I think that’s unfair, because Adversarial Light was the best New Wave of the Norwegian Second Wave (NWNSW?) record I’ve heard in ages, and I’ll spoil it now: Wampyric Rites doesn’t get close to those heights. That doesn’t mean The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre is a total wash, though.

The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre is a competent enough exercise in genre aesthetics. The title track begins on a tapping lead that’s pleasantly imperfect and heads on into something akin to old Gorgoroth filtered through old Darkthrone. The riffing maelstrom which begins “Tyrant’s Blood” is convincing stuff, although the ideas contained within are stretched a bit thin by the time its nearly five-minute runtime concludes. The record’s best material lies in the recurring lead in “Grim Funeral in the Dusty Dungeons of Time,” as it manages to capture melancholy rather well by evoking a cold loneliness redolent of a dungeon through its simplistic, and repetitive nature. The slow-burn introduction of “Under an Amethyst Sky” is suitably eerie and effectively evocative of the second wave, and the dissonance near its conclusion is effective. While its midsection is a bit long in the tooth, it manages to create an effective atmosphere of cold darkness.

Unfortunately, The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre is little more than a competent enough exercise in genre aesthetics. Its biggest issue is that the riffs simply aren’t all that interesting and tend to follow remarkably similar patterns throughout. Vrolok (The Riffing Wampyre) is probably melancholic because he’s induced carpal tunnel in his right hand by the nearly ubiquitous tremolo picking that comprises the riffing here. This makes the compositions become predictable and stale quickly, as the creative melodic elements of Gorgoroth, Darkthrone, and Emperor are largely absent, forcing an overreliance on fast, dark riffs that tend to lack substance beyond a base black metal aesthetic. Instead of becoming enrapturing like Transylvanian Hunger, The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre too often becomes musical wallpaper with its constant blasting and tremolo picking. There exists a compositional depth in Darkthrone that is simply absent here, and while someone wholly unfamiliar with black metal may be hard-pressed to tell the difference, anyone familiar with the genre will notice this quickly. The simplicity and repetition is just simple and repetitive, lacking the subtle variations of Transylvanian Hunger and the raw energy of old Gorgoroth.

Wampyric Rites thus presents me with quite the conundrum. I cannot in good conscience call The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre outright bad, but I also cannot recommend it without some serious reservations. I appreciate what this project is trying to do, and since this is a debut full-length, Wampyric Rites will likely grow into their sound. The best moments of this record offer glimmers of promise, and the “dungeon synth” introduction of “Ancient Specters of the Forlorn Forest” is well-done; I hope Wampyric Rites explores that avenue more in the future. Ultimately, this is a record held back by reaching only the heights of mere adequacy.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Inferna Profundus Records
Websites: Too kvlt for the interwebz
Releases Worldwide: February 1st, 2021

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