(In this latest edition of THE SYNN REPORT, Andy Synn reviews the discography of Polish supergroup Vesania, with musical accompaniment, of course.)
Recommended for fans of: Emperor, Zyklon, Behemoth
Supergroups are an odd thing. Mostly you’ll find them being trumpeted about in the mainstream press when an aging rock/pop star collaborates with a younger group in a desperate attempt to retain their relevance, or when ‘a’ from indie band ‘b’ forms a new group with ‘x’, ‘y’, and ‘z’, the questionable quality of their output inevitably outweighed by the extravagant hype played out in the media.
Supergroups in metal largely don’t get the excessive, fawning praise others do, for more reasons than just their lesser exposure. Generally, unless at least one of the members is of almost Portnoyan levels of media exposure, this interest in the quirks of celebrity and name value will quickly dwindle to an actual interest in whether the music is any good.
Another contributing factor is that the very nature of bands as a conglomeration of individuals, all with their own baggage, means many of them are a ‘supergroup’ in their own right. Look at the current Chimaira/Daath crossover, or the stellar line-up of modern day Borknagar. Or even The Gathering-era Testament, which existed essentially as a supergroup under the already established name.
Even supergroup side-projects often take on a fully-fledged life of their own. Mikael Akerfeldt recently announced his departure from death metal legends Bloodbath due to their intent to step up their touring and recording schedule, while the terror-thrash superpower Witchery have recently snagged yet another well-known figure and have been raising their profile ever since.
Poland’s Vesania have been an unappreciated underground legend for many years, churning out three impressive albums of their symphonic blackened death metal hybrid to cult and critical acclaim, with little fanfare from the metal press at large. Their own supergroup credentials are well established, as their line-up consists of some impressive names, some more infamous than others.
Primarily famed as the side project of Behemoth’s man-mountain bass player Orion, who here provides both guitar and vocals in his capacity as the group’s de rigeur frontman, Vesania also boasts the talents of ex-Decapitated/UnSun luminary Filip ‘Heinrich’ Halucha on bass, infamous keyboard player Siegmar, known for his work with both Behemoth and Vader, new-found guitarist Valeo (of underground Polish death metallers Sammath Naur) and the thunder-god himself, Daray of Vader, Dimmu Borgir, Azarath, and a host of other bands, handling the drums.
Firefrost Arckanum – 2003
The roughest diamond in Vesania’s collection, their debut album is an impressive and bombastically violent affair cruelly relegated to near obscurity. Perhaps the most uncompromising release the band has to offer, although it lacks some of the experimentation and searing hooks of Distractive Killusions and the sheer, dominating presence and scalpel-sharp focus of God The Lux, this album manages to capture an atmosphere of unrepentant, blasphemous ferocity.
“Mystherion. Crystaleyes” opens with frostbitten waves of blackened blasting, Orion’s snarling vocals catapulting themselves to the fore right from the off. Redolent of In The Nightside Eclipse-era Emperor, the track is performed with such obvious passion that each whispered keyboard line and tangled guitar riff transcends its influences, melding together into something subtle and nuanced, yet utterly ravenous..
Following the short interlude of “Introit Algor”, the album plunges into more death metal influenced waters with the lengthy, industrial tinged “Nova Persei”. Utterly barbaric, the song matches the expected dissonance with surprising tinges of progressive melody, courtesy of Siegmar’s spidery fingers, which conjure forth an array of synthetic and symphonic tones. Orion’s scalding, acid-drenched vocals drip corrosive venom, while the ballistic guitars loose volley after volley of wrenching, neck-snapping riffs.
The battle-hymn of “Algorfocus Nefas” serves as a welcome respite from the uncompromising aggression and excess surrounding it, leading into the blazing corona of “Marduke’s Mazemerizing”. The expansive keyboards shine throughout, whipping up a whirling dervish of brimstone majesty. Caustic melodies melt their way through the track’s armour-plated hull, while Orion’s spiteful vocals spit forth nihilistic parables of decadence and decay.
“Moonthrone, Dawn Broken” is another of the album’s many epics, both in length and ambition, opening with the sounds of a raging battle, before pestilential winds of black metal guitar sweep across the cracked and broken landscape. Belying its convoluted construction, the song retains a primal aggression throughout, the lurching riffs and crawling, predatory leads hammered home with unforgiving momentum, drowning the listener in wave after wave of blasting frenzy. Part way through, the song drops into a nasty, gut wrenching groove, before transitioning into an epic conflagration of hypnotic tremolo melodies and shadowy, godforsaken keys.
The unsettling horror-movie score of “Introit Focus” bleeds into the complex and labyrinthine “Daemoonion”, where bleak melodies and shattering blast-beats are delivered at near warp speed. Varying the pace, the group crush and grind as much as they rage and blast, slaughtering with speed and callous brutality without neglecting their barbed hooks. Raw and yet refined, the track’s fever-pitch intensity teeters on the edge of combustion, its twisted, technical guitars barely held in check by Daray’s ungodly drumming prowess and Orion’s sneering, superior snarl.
Threatening and foreboding, “Introit Nefas” primes the listener for the album’s triumphant finale “Dukedoom Black”. A pitch-black disaster of dark melody and cataclysmic force, the song detonates in a fireball of flaming dissonance, thick and heavy layers of choking guitars offset by scintillating keyboard runs and an utterly toxic vocal performance. The riffs are nothing less than a chaotic synthesis of suicidal melody and poisonous power whose spiraling notes and scraping chords drag the listener across a field of broken glass, twisting the knife deeper and deeper as the obliterating drums batter away at them again and again in a stop-start pattern of blast and bludgeon.
Recommended Track: “Marduke’s Mesmerizing”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/05-mardukes-mazemerising-Explicit.mp3|titles=Vesania – marduke’s mazemerising]
God The Lux – 2005
Taking a massive step up in terms of its earth-shaking guitar tone and massive production, God The Lux is the choice album of a large proportion of Vesania’s fan-base. Split into 4 movements, separated by the instrumental interludes of “Lumen Clamosum”, “Lumen Funestum”, and “Lumen Coruscum”, the album sees a distinct stylistic evolution from the group, layering their at-times keyboard-focused black metal sound with an armoured hide of titanic death metal fury.
The blood-drenched hellfire of “Rest In Pain” sees Daray at his punishing best, all clinical efficiency and unrelenting drive, topped off with an enviable knack for precise and evocative playing which brings out the best in each and every track. His air-tight playing locks in firmly with the many-angled riffs and juddering bass-lines, fusing together to form a terrible mechanical monster of a song.
The throbbing heartbeat of “Posthuman Kind” shudders under the weight of the massive wall of keys looming over it, an imposing precipice of ethereal symphonic overtones which swell and throb behind the rippling fills and scything guitars. Ringing, agile cymbal work accents every twist and turn, while Orion’s harsh, inhumanly distorted vocalisations stamp their dominion on the track.
The concussive riff detonations of “God The Lux” pummel with industrial strength, the drums surging forwards like a tidal wave of calculated violence. Nerve-scraping guitars judder and shake with pneumatic intensity, while Orion’s vehement exhortations rape the airwaves throughout. Both guitarists demonstrate their ability to shred their instruments, without resorting to overblown showboating, leaving the song crippled and broken in their wake.
“Synchroscheme” bristles with dark promise, its elaborate keys and molten, flowing guitars matching beauty and discordance in perfect synchronicity. Stabbing keys rain like knives upon the track, while the guitars move sinuously between prowling menace and rabid ferocity. The lengthy soundscapes of the song allow the band to experiment and vary their pacing and delivery, easing off on the speed at key points to craft an epic and evocative atmosphere.
The brooding menace of “Phosphorror”, with its gallows chords and ringing keyboards, weaves a tapestry of midnight shades and sightless colours, its tightly reined-in guitar work all plunging slides and jarring, staccato chugs that suddenly erupts into a hailstorm of icy tremolo work and guttural, barking insanity.
The slinky, riff-shifting maelstrom of “The Mystory” allows both guitarists to expand their repertoire, with Orion also stretching his voice from traditional blackened screams and deathly growls to a series of ghastly moans and groans. The song’s winding tremolo work and stinging blasts set the stage for a hurricane of driving riffs and writhing, incisive melody lines, wrapped in a claustrophobic cocoon of wicked keyboard runs and pulse-quickening bass.
“Fireclipse” conceals a seductive undercurrent of poignant, needling melodies beneath its initial façade of staccato drumming artillery and chugging barrages of hammerlock guitars. The grandiose symphonic embellishments on the track add layers of subtlety to its whiplashing tremolo work and mammoth, ringing death-chords.
Final track proper (ignoring the superfluous outro of “Inlustra Nigror”) “Legions Are Me” is a genocidal monster that sees Orion deliver his terrible proclamations in an imposing, tyrannical fashion. Its churning opening bars soon transform into a frenzied downpour of blasting snare-hits and rusted, bloody guitars that carve their way through the shadowy atmosphere conjured by Siegmar’s impressive keyboard work, ending the album in truly apocalyptic fashion.
Recommended Track: “Fireclipse”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/09-Fireclipse.mp3|titles=Vesania – Fireclipse]
Distractive Killusions – 2007
Wearing its Dimmu Borgir influence more defiantly than ever, Distractive Killusions sees the band becoming, if not kings, then at least princes of the carnival creation, utilising their bombastic, theatrical keyboards to conjure a warped and nightmarish vibe, a spinning, swirling circus of the damned where hacking guitars and demonic roars dance and mingle with hellish intent.
“Narrenschiff” opens with some absolutely killer riffage that’s drawn straight from the Emperor playbook, all gnarled, twisted note patterns and meta-death metal intensity. Vast swathes of regal keyboards carry the song toward a stomping, ominous mid-section, Orion unleashing a maddening cackle as counterpoint to his possessed growl.
The stomping colossus of “The Dawnfall” focuses more on crushing power than all-out speed, Daray’s metronomic kicks rolling thunderously in the background as rumbling death vocals and pounding riffage march forward with unparalleled force. The keys dance nimbly with a demented glee as the band reach terminal velocity which transitions, by way of Heinrich’s thrumming bass-lines, back into the song’s doom-laden death-march.
The more blackened vibe of the gnarled “Infinity Horizon” sees the vocals vary from a desiccated black metal croak to a rumbling, sludge-soaked growl of desperation, backed with some ritualistic clean vocals that fade in and out of the background. A sizzling solo leads the track into full-speed ahead blasting, before the song transforms into a slow and doomy crawl which oozes occult malevolence,
“Rage Of Reason” flows like blood and wine, its grandiose melodies guided by Daray’s unrelenting skin-work. The song’s razor-edged solo weaves in and out of the electrifying riffs, as the song builds into a headbanging monster of stunning groove. Almost out of nowhere the track segues into an eerie conglomeration of carnival-esque keys and hanging guitars that totally transform the song. It’s an unsettling, unexpected shift that serves to disturb the listener’s expectations entirely.
Daray’s flying feet and nimble hands introduce the grandiose “Of Bitterness and Clarity”. Raging full force with a seemingly tireless series of Gatling-gun blasts and thudding kick rolls, the song never lets up on the extremity, its heaving, sledgehammer rhythms underpinning a wailing solo and vile, blasphemous keyboard arrangements.
The weird, pulsating electronica and seething bass-lines that underlie “Silence Makes Noise” offer yet another unexpected surprise, but do nothing to weaken the searing black metal ferocity and devastating potency of the song’s delivery. The track is definitely one of the album’s highlights, moving from monstrous stomping riffs to crackling leads and dense, crushing chord progressions.
The martial stomp of “Hell Is For Children” is backed by some sinister, ostentatious brass that would fit well with the more bleak and immersive material produced by Rammstein, enfolding the vast, groaning riffs in a haunting miasma of evil, Siegmar’s crackling keys accenting every storm-drowned riff with ebon lightning.
The angular death-metal of penultimate track “Aesthesis” twists and turns unpredictably, unleashing a raging torrent of bone-crunching blast-beats and devastating explosions of syncopated force. Orion delivers perhaps his best vocal work of the entire disc, tearing his throat bloody and raging like a man possessed, while the masterful keyboard work paints a foreboding picture throughout, segueing into the ambient outro of “Distractive Killusions”, all eerie chords and terrible ticking clocks.
Recommended Track: “Narrenschiff”[audio:https://www.nocleansinging.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/01-Narrenschyff.mp3|titles=Vesania – Narrenschyff]