|Review: Vanum - Legend|
Label: Profound Lore Records
Year released: 2022
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: June 12, 2022
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
Rated 4.33/5 (86.67%) (3 Votes)
In a recent post on Vanum’s Facebook page introducing their new album, Legend, they described the work as "Empowering black metal for waging war against this broken world." Empowerment is certainly a feeling that can be derived from listening to this album, especially during two tracks in particular which carry a rather decisive tone.
Right from the beginning, a listener will likely notice that the sound of the record is unique in that it is very clean, but also somewhat softened in terms of how hard-hitting the sounds strike. It results in a somewhat thin-sounding production, which admittedly took me a while to appreciate. However, after a couple of listens through the album, the production work feels appropriate. Yet, there is also a lasting thought in my head as to what this album could have sounded like with some alterations. The work on Legend is generally quite melodic and not among the faster of Black Metal albums you will hear, with a mid-paced feel to most songs. The vocalist frequently reminds of mid- or late-era Martin van Drunen, which is quite cool in this context. Musically, there is a nice variety of blasting sections mixed in with mostly slower, melodic riff-driven sections, which often sound as if they would fit very nicely in an Epic Heavy Metal album. I could certainly imagine some of these riffs on a Doomsword album.
The two standout tracks I would identify are the final two tracks, which both have moments of sheer power, connecting with the band’s statement in how they describe the work. The first of the two is the title track, "Legend," which honestly does not do too much differently from other tracks. Rather, it just does everything on a level that feels more memorable. There is a guitar solo on this track, something which I would have liked to see more throughout the album. The riffs on the album are strong, but more solos to diversify without abandoning the band’s stylistic vision would be great to hear. "Legend" is a diverse track, like all before it, but the final two and a half minutes are just an epic, powerful, fist-pumping riff and finish that will get stuck in your head for sure. The final track, "Beneath the Pillars of Earth and Air," is a real triumphant number. With its run time being quite long at over 14 minutes, they did very well using the time space in a meaningful way in terms of tempo, songwriting, and atmosphere. This track is the slowest of the bunch, but, of course, with moments of varied tempo like the others. When I finally listened to this track with the lyrics in front of me, there were two moments in which I got goosebumps. And that final lyric just hit me, "Know that this death is not defeat," the way it worked with the music.
With Legend, Vanum have many great qualities and a handful of genuinely standout moments. The production job may be a discussion point to disagree upon amongst listeners, but one must appreciate bold decisions amongst a sea of soundalikes. If you like melodic riff-oriented Black Metal that does not bother to blast at full speed, definitely go check this one out.
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