New York's Vorde is a relatively young band, having existed since 2012 and in that time releasing two demos of raw, disorienting black metal. Yet, while the project itself is young Vorde is partially the brainchild of Mike Rekevics of Fell Voices and Vilkacis amongst a host of other projects. Rekevics has made a name for himself in the world of metal mainly through the aforementioned Fell Voices, an expansive project whose wall-of-sound approach to black metal is stunning in it's scope and unrelenting devotion to creating an immersive atmosphere. On this, Vorde's first full length, the band utilizes a similar immersive approach, however the intent within is far more sinister. The album is a scathing rampage of eerie chords, oppressive drums, and a truly manic vocal performance. A journey through a dark cosmic landscape, rooted firmly in traditional black metal yet not tethered to rote regurgitation.
Take the album's second track, "Transformations of the Vessel" with it's introduction of nefarious guitars dancing above throbbing percussion. The track continues forward, descending deeper and deeper into lunacy; icy tremolo picked guitars glide like wraiths over the constant pulse of the drums, carrying the song at a quick pace. While more aggressive moments like the entirety of the aforementioned track are commonplace on the album, more morose and ominous sections are also a crucial element to Vorde's sound. The introduction to "Blood Moon" utilizes nearly Xasthur-esque washes of echoing guitar to usher in a dreadful atmosphere. No matter the pace the entirety of the album is drenched in a macabre feeling of religiousness, a perverse expression of cosmic longing. Its as if the members of Vorde are attempting to communicate directly with the void, throwing themselves haphazardly blasting towards dreadful oblivion.
This near religious feeling is reinforced by the outstanding vocal performance. Vocalist, Aziel never resorts to a typical black metal screech or growl, instead performs a ghoulish croaking call or an anguished howl. Similar to a less frogged-out Dagon of Inquisition or Attila Csihar but less spastic and more based in chant. The performance is direct and the chanting works to solidify the mystical sonic environment created by the band. Aziel's vocals and the rest of the bands instrumental accompaniment work in tandem to create an aura of black psychosis.
"Funeral Vortex" stands as the bands opus, an unhinged descent into the void. Angular riffing crashes against the steady assault of progressively structured drums. As the title suggests the track carries with it vortical motion, a swirling madness complete with Aziel's insane utterances seeming to draw the quartet deeper into ritual. The track takes a final turn with a similar distant guitar sound found on "Blood Moon" making a reappearance. As the album drifts to it's conclusion and the communion comes to a close one is left with a feeling of otherworldliness.
Traditionalism collides with fearlessness and the result creates a more than impressive first full length. The deep roots of black metal's many forms are evident within Vorde's sound; however while the band grasps at black metal and it's variety of stylistic divisions they remain unafraid to create their own vision. The debut, out now on Fallen Empire Records and Psychic Violence Records is a testament to black metal's continued growth and expansion.