(Andy Synn returns to his roots with the new album from Russian Metallic Hardcore crew Vorvaň)
To quote a hoary old cliché… the only constant in life is change.
That’s true for pretty much everything, especially people (and what are bands if not the extension of the people in them?),
Let’s face it, I’m not the same person I was five, ten, twenty years ago. My life, my circumstances, my tastes, have all changed and evolved.
But, at the same time, you know what they say… the more things change, the more they stay the same… and one thing that hasn’t changed is my love and appreciation for a good bit of merciless Metallic Hardcore, and today’s particular slab of undisputed attitude comes straight from Russia (though definitely not with love).
Kicking off with the blast ‘n’ burn, gallop ‘n’ gurn, shrieking, screaming eruption of pure hellfire that is “Hyenas”, it’s instantly clear that Vorvaň aren’t taking any prisoners on this one, and anyone expecting the last five years to have weakened or watered-down the band’s furious, in-your-face assault is in for a seriously rude awakening.
In fact, if anything, the lengthy gap since the band released their first album, Once Love Was Lost, seems only to have added more fuel to their fire, as there are several moments on this disc – not just during “Hyenas”, but also in songs like “Red Mistress” and “The Greatest Threat” – where the band increase the speed and intensity to almost Black Metal or Grindcore levels, resulting in an almost involuntary recoil as this new level of punishing power comes blasting out of your speakers.
It’s not all venom and violence, though. There’s some absolutely virulent melodic and rhythmic hooks to be found on this record too, from the punky leads and choppy riffs of “Paths We Have Strayed From” and “Niebo”, to the almost orgasmic array of killer riffs and catchy twists making up songs like “Superscum” and “Of Those Who Bled”.
What most stands out, however – especially if you’re familiar with the group’s previous works – is how much more focussed and refined their sound seems this time around.
Whereas previous releases perhaps wore their influences a little too proudly, to the point where it occasionally felt like the band were just bouncing around the genre-map trying to pay tribute to all their different inspirations, on Awakened it feels like the band have finally found the magic formula to fully synthesise all these different elements into a far more cohesive whole which is still – as the gloomy Sludge-Punk of “Shaped By The Void” and the climactic, post-metallic explosion of closer “Anhalter Bahnhof” prove – brimming with an impressive amount of variety.
Is it perfect? Not quite. At twelve song and fifty-six minutes it’s a little too long for its own good (less is more after all… or, at least, that’s what they keep telling me), and awkwardly-placed, Game of Thrones-esque interlude “The Reason” sounds more like a disposable intro track that somehow got lost in the shuffle, but those are relatively minor concerns/criticisms in the grand scheme of things.
So next time you’re in need of a pick-me-up – the sort of short, sharp shock of audio-adrenaline that you can only get by mixing up the best bits of Converge, Martyrdööd, and Darkest Hour – then consider giving this one a spin. Because it will most definitely wake you up. And then some.