Written by: Bane Ov Silence
Usually when I think of places known for producing great black metal, I think of Scandinavia, particularly Norway, parts of the United States, and random countries in central Europe. Obviously, there are plenty of bands who are exceptions to this rule, but I think if you ask your average metal fan where their favorite black metal band is from, their answer will be one of the aforementioned places. Today however, we are talking about a band from a country not very well known for exporting music, much less black metal, 殞煞Vengeful Spectre, from China.
The first thing the listener will notice about 殞煞Vengeful Spectre is that they wear their Asian heritage on their sleeve. They have everything one would expect from a black metal band, such as tremolo picked riffs and blast beats, but they also set themselves apart by incorporating traditional Chinese instruments, making for an amazing mix of Asian folk music and traditional European black metal. The album sounds like a soundtrack to a gritty retelling of The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Every song invokes imagery of two massive armies clashing in an open field.
The best part of 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre is the Asian folk elements, but everything else on the album is good as well. The production is dirty and raw, which is what you would expect from the genre. The guitar work is mostly tremolo-picked riffs and lots of palm muting; once again, what you would expect from black metal. The real genius of the guitar work isn’t revealed until the more traditional folk elements start to show up in the music, as instruments that evoke images of harmony and nature are intertwined seamlessly with raw and menacing black metal riffs. It’s a sound that shouldn’t work, but 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre pull it off perfectly. Between songs, the group will play interludes that just feature these more traditional Asian sounds. While often instrumental interludes sound like filler and completely fail to capture the listeners attention, 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre have managed to keep me enthralled even throughout the slower parts, and manage to maintain all the momentum of the album from one song to another.
Even when the album is laying off the folk elements and goes into more traditional black metal territory, it holds its own. The riffs manage to maintain the epic galloping feel, while still sounding dark in the way you would expect a more traditional black metal album to sound. The vocalist utilizes a high-pitched growl that sounds like something from a grindcore band, which after a while can start to sound very grating. While it doesn’t take away from the experience, it is my least favorite part and worth noting. In the end, 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre manage to meld two very different sounds into an album that is required listening for anyone who considers themselves a fan of extreme music.
殞煞 Vengeful Spectre - Self-Titled was released Jan. 15th from Pest Productions
殞煞 Vengeful Spectre can be found:
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.