The Germany-based multinational black metal band Vorga made a striking first impression with their February 2019 debut EP, Radiant Gloom. With a modern production approach that delivered the music with vibrant immediacy, razor-sharp clarity, and visceral power, the EP revealed a band capable of combining full-throttle ferocity, bone-bruising heaviness, and emotionally penetrating melodies with a sheen of cosmic mystery and menace but also well-shaded by the old northern darkness and a knack for revealing human frailty and resilience. Each song had its own character, and each one proved to be memorable (and if you haven’t heard it, get yourself here and do that).
Greeted with enthusiasm by both critics and fans alike, Radiant Gloom drew the attention of Transcending Obscurity Records, which signed Vorga for the release of their debut album, Striving Toward Oblivion. The disruptions of the Covid-19 pandemic have delayed the album’s release to some indefinite date later this year, and so to bridge the gap Vorga decided to release a stand-alone single, which will not appear on the new album. Its name is “Cataract Mind“, and we are privileged to premiere it today as it becomes available for download on Bandcamp.
On Radiant Gloom, Vorga eschewed the typical reliance on relentless blast-beats and non-stop tremolo’d riffing, preferring to create a more varied attack that also borrowed from other traditions. The band’s rhythm section is so talented that the compositions allowed them to shine rather than chaining them to non-stop strafing runs, and “Cataract Mind” does that again, providing the lively, heavyweight bass a place of prominence and featuring a typically sharp and nuanced drum performance whose changing patterns well-suit the song’s shifting energies and moods. The track mainly charges at a hurtling pace, and the high-powered propulsion gets the blood pumping, but it gets the head moving too (which was also true of the songs on Radiant Gloom).
Meanwhile, the new song stands as further proof of Vorga‘s talent for crafting emotionally involving melodies. Here, the riffing moves in waves that seem to convey intense yearning and desire, paired with fluid and flickering leads that add feelings of both melancholy and feverish vibrancy. The music reaches a point when the pace drops suddenly and the chords reverberate in tones of hopelessness and gloom. As the fieriness of the music builds again, it seems to become even more sweeping and grand, causing the heart to swell again.
And last but not least, the vocals are ravishing in their intensity. The screams and howls flare like the sounds of a cornered panther fighting viciously for its life. In the movement when the pace slows, the vocals change, becoming frighteningly spectral, and later include blood-freezing roars.
Even though Vorga have demonstrated an affinity for cosmic themes, “Cataract Mind” is one of those melodic black metal songs that wears its heart on its sleeve. It shows a band who are faithful to many of the elements of second-wave black metal but who have embraced a modern sound and an open portrayal of human emotion, and the results are gripping.
As mentioned at the outset, “Cataract Mind” is available now on Bandcamp. Keep your fingers crossed that their new album will see the light of day sooner rather than later. Based on the evidence we now have, it should be a highlight of this miserable year.
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