|Review: IC Rex - Vedenjakaja|
Label: Hammer of Hate Records
Year released: 2009
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: April 1, 2009
Reviewed by: Brett Buckle
Rated 3.67/5 (73.33%) (6 Votes)
IC Rex is another in a long line of one-man Black Metal bands, and in the great tradition of many of the smaller Black Metal scenes, has done his time in other Finnish acts such as Baptism and Tunrida. Vedenjakaja is Cinatas' third album under the IC Rex banner and it shows in the maturity of songwriting that, while setting the bar high with some great riffs and memorable melodies, unfortunately never quite reaches the lofty heights it aims for.
Unsurprisingly we are treated to three minutes or so of ambient keyboards to introduce the album, and not particularly inspired keyboards at that. I do not, and never will, understand the point of starting an album out like this – I'm almost nodding off from boredom whenever I encounter them. However, there are plenty of good riffs to be found here, and some good melodies, served up via the only instrument with a clear voice – the lead guitar. "Kristallipalatsi" has some good melodic sections and some good head-nodding riffage but is a little bit unfocused. It's not until we get to "Näky Hävityksestä" that Vedenjakaja really starts to show its potential. The eleven and a half minute track has some great riffs and melodies, and its extended mid section has some really effective ambient keyboards singing eerily in the background. It is clear from these kinds of sections that Cinatas is more comfortable with this slower paced material as it is much more enjoyable than the faster stuff, although I could have done without the three minutes of ambient keyboards at the end of the track. "Hautajaiskulkue" continues by playing the IC Rex's strengths with some ponderously slow riffs and eerie melodies, and perhaps Cinatas' best vocal performance for the album, reminding me in places of Nehëmah's "Taken Away by the Torn Black Shroud" but lacking that track's majesty. Along with the thirteen minute title track it is the album highlight. Cinatas also occasionally tries his hand at guitar solos when perhaps he shouldn't. The rambling, out of time twitching in "Valolanka" is, quite frankly, terrible. The melodic solo is a little better but it also hits a couple of bum notes ruining whatever may have been salvageable. Thankfully we are not subjected to them too often.
The production on Vedenjakaja is just odd. I mean, there is little to separate it from the dozens of stripped-back Horna copycats, but it has the narrowest soundstage I have ever heard on a CD. The entire band is squashed into a narrow space that, when listening through headphones, sounds like it is coming from the exact middle of your head. Maybe not so bad by itself, but the cymbals splash around in a wide soundstage, coming from all directions, as do the melodic guitar lines – sometimes from the right, sometimes the left, but it is strange to hear them so separated from the rest of the instruments. The vocals of Cinatas as quite varied both in sound and production (he uses vocal effects sparingly but suitably), sticking largely with a by-the-numbers Black Metal rasp but occasionally using a pretty good clean vocal style that is reminiscent of Ihsahn with its slightly operatic tone.
Vedenjakaja is an interesting album in that it is not a typical Finnish blast fest, nor does it have a notably evil presence. There is a lot of melody, especially when the pace slows and the clean vocals come to the fore, but it is not "melodic Black Metal". I'm not going to say it's unique because it very far from being so, but similarly to Requiem Tenebrae it delivers an ancient Elder God style alien atmosphere that, while never quite reaching the progressive heights or evil depths of that album, is nonetheless very enjoyable.
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