The new album by the Ukrainian heathen black metal band Ulvegr is multifaceted, but in all its dimensions it comes across as a deeply personal work, crafted and presented with utter conviction and unrelenting intensity, even in its least incendiary passages. The name of the album is Titahion: Kaos Manifest, and today we present its North American premiere in advance of its April 17th release through Ashen Dominion.
This is Ulvegr‘s fourth album since 2011, created by the band’s two steadfast members Helg (songwriting, vocals, guitar, bass) and Odalv (drums), with significant guest contributions by Astargh (lead and rhythm guitars and vocals), Hyozt (keys and samples), and Zhoth (vocals and voices on three tracks, and lyrics on two). For those new to Ulvegr, both Helg and Odalv are members of Kzohh, Ygg, and Runes of Dianceht, and Helg is also a member of Khors while Odalv also contributes his talents to Twilightfall and Elderblood.
As mentioned, the music within the album presents different dimensions, but all of them unified by dramatic (and even delirious) intensity and an atmosphere of occult, ritualistic ceremony, made more hideous through lyrical appeals to such entities as the Outer Gods of Lovecraftian lore and Babylonian demons.
The ritualistic aspects of the album are never far away, but most pronounced in the introductory track, “Sol In Signo Sagitarrii”, “Countless Aeons in Transcendent Abyss”, and “U-Tuk-Ku Lim-Nu”, in which penetrating tribal drum rhythms are joined with cosmic ambience and deep droning tones suggestive of the void. In the second and third of these tracks (and others), crazed voices and harrowing snarls can be heard, as if we are witnessing mad, cacophonous conversations between humans and demonic terrors.
These tracks are more like interludes than music, but the same elements of unsettling cosmic ambience and tribal rhythms surface elsewhere, forming parts of such tracks as the album’s long centerpiece “She, Who Grants Sufferings” and the penultimate track “Bloodcult”. But it’s in the album’s fully-formed songs where the intensity is at its zenith.
“Throne Among the Void” represents one aspect of that intensity. Listening to it is like being immersed in fire, enveloped in powerful waves of fierce tremolo riffing and sweeping keyboards that give the music a mystical atmosphere, and propelled by a powerful and dynamic drum attack. The vocals in the song — as they are throughout the album — are terrifying. Helg and his guests have created bedlam with their voices, as if different characters are appearing in a play, but all of them tortured, insane, or inhuman.
The surging, sweeping intensity and infernal grandeur of “Throne…” is repeated in most of the other songs, apart from those strange and disturbing interludes, but Ulvegr reveal other dimensions as well — deep, heaving riffs and slow, ominous, doomed marches; incandescent guitar leads that sound both exultant and painfully bereaved; titanic heaviness of near-apocalyptic proportions; and strikingly melancholy melodies that are beautiful as well as unmistakably bleak (the extended, soulful guitar solo that ends the final track “Black Light of A Dying Sun” is a fine example of the album’s sorrowful yet mesmerizing aspect).
The changing faces of the music is part of what makes listening to the album from beginning to end such a gripping experience, and that’s what I would recommend you do. But if you want to simply sample what it holds in store, that long central song “She, Who Grants Sufferings”, pulls together almost all of the album’s different dimensions into a unified whole, and that’s the one I would recommend.
Titahion: Kaos Manifest was recorded, mixed, and mastered at Dark Essence Recording Studio in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and it has a vibrant and very powerful sound. The album will be released in an 8-panel digipak CD format with an A3 poster, and in a limited-edition black wooden box that includes a wooden sigil, patch, and stickers.