Vahrzaw’s first demo turned 23 years old earlier this year, relatively young in human years but relatively ancient in the annals of extreme metal. After a couple of other releases of a similar vintage, the band’s recording endeavors went quiet for about a decade, but they re-emerged in 2006 and discharged a trio of EPs, several splits, and two albums over the next decade. However, after roughly 25 rough years of inflicting black/death violence, it appears they’ve “really had enough of the bullshit associated with producing albums, and even EPs” — so says Blood Harvest Records, who will be releasing what will likely be this Australian group’s final recording on April 23rd.
This probable swan-song is an eight-track album named Husk. Despite what the title might suggest, and despite the band having bitterly reached the end of their long rope, it’s not a hollowed-out or desiccated affair. To the contrary, it leaves us thinking that it would be a damned shame if this in fact proves to be Vahrzaw’s last hurrah. If it is, they’ve definitely not made their exit meekly or half-heartedly. As Exhibit A, we offer “King In Yellow“.
Mid-paced at first, this new song becomes a rushing conflagration. Even in the early, slower segment, the song seizes attention. The drums are clobbering in their impact, the riffs deep, dark, and hatefully seething, and the lead guitar ejects freakish bursts of melody that spiral up and out like tendrils of spectral flame, while nasty rasping vocals spew venom and bile in a fury.
And then the drums begin to clatter and gallop, the riffing heats up to a vicious boil, swarming in a ferocious frenzy, and the chords also drag like heavy dungeon chains. Horrifying roars are to be heard, as well as a solo that skitters, flickers, and soars. The intensity is communicable, the destructiveness is devastating, and the sense that graves have been opened and cadaverous warriors have come charging out is inescapable.
You won’t see the outro coming (except I guess you will now), but those haunting notes at the end do unexpectedly fit the mood, while allowing the listener’s pulse to subside before Vahrzaw launch their next attack.
Maybe they’ll change their minds… maybe Husk won’t be the last of Vahrzaw… but if so, at least they’re leaving us with some nightmarish memories.
Blood Harvest will give us Husk on CD and digitally on April 23. Pre-orders can be placed now.