Vanum - Burning Arrow
Ambient Epic Black Metal
3 songs (24'53")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

The duo which is Vanum, composed of Kyle Morgan and Michael Rekevics, has a pretty difficult task in front of them. Both musicians coming from ambient American black metal prominence, their paths probably crossing at Ash Borer with Michael also being in Fell Voices, Vanum possesses certain lineage. The challenge then is not to become a copy to the acts established earlier, for Vanum material not to sound like something Ash Borer or Fell Voices would have left behind.

Whether the project’s individuality success was achieved can be debatable, but the fact Burning Arrow EP is an enjoyable listen is beyond doubt. Sure enough, familiar ambient black metal traits are poking through, but on Burning Arrow Vanum left behind meandering minimalism, and instead showcased the more epic medieval side. The setting of Watcher in the Eastern Sky is almost a tragic riff played with distorted guitars, the music growing fuller by the minute with tremolo riffs taking over. Percussion also begins with timid rolls in background until full on blasts are to follow. Soul ripping melodies are there to stay, but they do not have an obvious folky bent to them, and the music feels more like an archaic Winterfylleth or Wodensthrone, or something Greek black metal would have produced, than Agalloch or anything from the Cascadian realm. When Immortal Will develops some surprising aggressive plunges, the epithets which come to mind describing the music is proud of heritage, triumphant, bold and thundering, more so than withdrawn and reclusive. Spring of Life continues where Immortal Will left off, until a wall of sound subsidies for another epic melody to shine. An old country pride is on display yet again.

Burning Arrow is an effort which is equal part stoic and atmospheric and does rely on the riffs, more full-bodied production, without bottom end being overwhelming. The melodies and riffs are there to grab and feel viscerally, while repetitiousness and minimalism are not noticeable. This makes these 25 min fly by, even though the songs are lengthy. Looking outward with confidence, much more so than can be expected with this genre, is something that distinguished Burning Arrow for me. The EP is suitable more for standing atop the mountain, gazing at the vastness with pride, than being hauled up in the remote wooden cabin whispering to nature all at your lonesome.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted 85 / 100
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