Genre : Atmospheric black metal
Release : August 8th 2014 on Natural World Records.
Hi there, it's been a while! Well, June was much work and July was much relaxing and holidays. Now I'm back in business, let me introduce you Vaiya, a side-project from Encircling sea's mastermind Rob Allen. It's not Vaiya's first release, but first ones were much more on a ritualistic mood and definitely not easy listens, although surely interesting ones. Rob hasn't created a copy of Encircling sea's recent works either, but Remnant light is surely closer to his main band in terms of musical genre, which is for that case strongly atmospheric and melancholic sludge-driven black metal.
Yet, this album doesn't rely much on folk or acoustic elements to setup its mood. It tends more towards huge sludgy walls of sound and maybe some hints of doom. Although I don't like comparing bands to each other, quite a part of Remnant light actually reminds me of The great old ones new album, be it for the mood, the guitar sound or the vocals. I think this is a positive comparison though, as Tekeli-li is a brillant record. But it's just similarities, as Vaiya depicts more melancholy and despair than nightmarish scenes. As seen above, this new release is split equally in three 13 minutes tracks. On its first half, 'Confrontation' is straightforward and bleak, and that's probably what led me to the previous comparison. Then it calms down, including a slow riff and a monotonic acoustic part while vocals switch to an half-clean whispered kind. Every track is built a similar way, but Rob successfully created its transitions in order to avoid any feeling of boredom throughout the whole listen. Also, those walls of sound are both catchy with their melodic side and stunning with the strength of the guitar effects. And considering how omnipresent they are on Remnant light, those clever rhythm guitars really make this album a success, alongside with vocals switching different singing genres but always carrying emotions as intended, somewhere between despair, rage and meditation. 'Banishment' uses more or less the same setup than 'Confrontation', with a straightforward first half and a more melancholic, calming interlude in its second half. 'Transformation', again, is a big blast on the first 8 minutes and ends in some soothing tunes, reminding more of Encircling sea's softer parts. This whole track is probably the closest one to Rob's main project, actually.
Moving out of its ritualistic roots and placing itself into a more usual sludge and black metal mixture, Vaiya created a more easy-listening album (for black metal listeners, at least). Such a genre change was unexpected and may be surprising if at least you heard the previous works, but that will surely lead the project to a wider audience. Even if not revolutionary in terms of song structure, Remnant light is a cleverly built album and deserves immediate attention inside the atmospheric black metal scene. What I mean is that this album might be quite basic in terms of songwriting, but Rob's experience in musical creation makes every single element shine and as such, the whole thing is an highly enjoyable release which definitely deserves consideration.
Personal highlight : Banishment.
Link : Bandcamp.