Vesperian Sorrow
Awaken the Greylight

Although one of the USA’s early purveyors of European symphonic black metal in the late 90s and early 00s along with Dragonlord, Scholomance, Dreamscapes of the Perverse, Epicurean, Venificum, Santus, and such, Austin TX’s Vesperian Sorrow and most of those listed) never quite garnered a ton of attention. The Europeans just did it better with the likes of Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, and others playing at a high level at the time.

2012s Stormwinds of Ages, was the last time I heard them.  And frankly, I wasn’t aware they were still around despite a recording and rerelease of 2006s Regenesis Creation in 2019  Anyway, this is a long-winded, clumsy way of saying they are indeed still around and producing solid albums.

Lone original members Kristoph (keys, drums) and William (guitars), find themselves on a perfect label in 2024 with a revamped lineup that notably includes ex-Vex and Whore of Babylon (two bands I rather enjoy) vocalist Orlando Logan Olivero. Now let’s get this out of the way right away, I loved Olivero’s work in Vex and Whore of Babylon, and here his growls and rasps are solid, but his array of clean vocals, where he’s going for an ICS Vortex/Snowy Shaw thing is a bit hit and miss.

However, that’s a minor quibble, as everything else here is damn solid as Awaken the Greylight delivers almost an hour of symphonic black metal with excellent keyboards and dynamic songwriting that covers plenty of gaits and moods.

From the Arabic swirl of the opener “As the Pillars Were Raised”, through the dramatic, high octane “Traverse The Vorthonian Passage” (where some of Olivero’s cleans work well), moodier “A Dire Flight for the Black Fragment” and bombastic standouts “Seek the Last Priestess of Tyyk”  and “They Beheld the Chainbreaker’s Crowning Defiance” to the superbly melodic “The Excillion Ontogenesis” (which imbued Rotting Christ/Septic Flesh) and the closing title track (the album’s back half really excels), the album is a professional, well written and well-delivered example of Symphonic Black metal.

Will it beat out Ensom’s Poimandres as my favorite symphonic black metal album of the year? No, but I doubt anything will. But it’s good to see these guys still at it and churning out solid material 25 years after their debut, when they were considered an American afterthought in the genre.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
May 17th, 2024

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