Homeward Path

While trying to find a video/sample to put into my reviews of Alda’s Passage, and Crom Dubh‘s Heimweh, I keep seeing YouTube suggestions for songs from a band called Vallendusk. Well, eventually I clicked on one of the songs from the band’s Pest Records 2013 album, Black Clouds Gathering, and I was hooked. And not just hooked, absolutely enamored, purchasing the CD and researching the band, discovering they have a new album out on Northern Silence, home of Ghost BathSaor and Woods of Desolation, and a thus a fitting match.

Hailing from Jakarta, Indonesia, (hopefully they are not pulling a Ghost Bath), Vallendusk, play a similar form of atmospheric, shoegaze-y, emotive, depressive but melodic, breezy black metal as the any of the above referenced bands, but also has clear roots in the likes of , envyDeafheaven (In fact, had I heard Black Clouds Gathering  earlier it would have given Sunbather a run for its money in my year end list) , early Alcest and the Cascadian scene. So if you are one of the hipster hating hater that thinks Ghost BathDeafheaven are not black metal and should be nothing but spikes and church burnings, this isn’t for you.

A little has changed from the debut. Raspy vocals and warm, tremolo picked riffs still rooted in airy, despondent 3/4 or  6/8 canters are the prevalent and often repeated sound. But some slightly 70s ish keyboards and a few lean vocals have found their way into the mix. The Opeth-y keys are subtle but actually work really well, making already brilliant songs like “The Anchors” and “Eyes of the Watcher” even better. But when the riffs are just this damned well done, with a simply addictively , melodic gait and delicately rending hue, (and even simultaneously uplifting as heard on “Ring of Fire”)the keys are just bonus. There are many moments on Homeward Bound, as with the debut, where the chord progressions and melodies make my heart simply ache.

The aforementioned “The Anchors” and “Eyes of the Watcher” certainly are stunning highlights and personal favorites, but even with a overarching pace for most of the album, every track is superb if similarly paced. These guys just know their way around a evocative riff. The somber, but at the same time majestic chord progressions are just to die for,  even if simply variations of three based time signatures. The 7 lengthy songs and 62 minutes of music is captivating from start to finish as the mesmerizing tremolo picked notes dance and flutter over repetitive drum patterns with deft but frantic melancholic ease.

Whether its the opener aptly titled “Windswept Plain” or 11 minute closer “Grains of Horizon”, and everything in between, I’m absolutely in love with every note on this album. And it never comes across as pretentious,  artsy or hipster as Deafheaven seem to often do (and I love Deafheaven), but as sincere, honest and wide eyed with un-tainted energy.

It’s been a long time that fallen so hard for a band so quickly, but Vallendusk is the very apex of my current atmospheric/ black gaze black metal binge, but will have far greater staying power as I move onto other genres, as its almost guaranteed to be one of my vary favorite albums of 2015, if not beyond.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 17th, 2015


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