Vesperian Sorrow
Stormwinds of Ages

Recently I’ve been on a bit of a symphonic black metal kick, dusting off the likes of Anorexia Nervosa, Skyfire, Stormlord, Arthemesia, Dagor Dagorath, Sirius, Covenant (when they had a a ‘C’) as well as good ol’ Dimmu and Cradle of Filth. And during this time, something struck me; Other than Carach Angren‘s Where the Corpses Sink Forever,  and Eternal Deformity‘s Beauty in Chaos, 2012 has been relatively bereft of the style. Some of you may cry “Hold on!, what about Abigail WilliamsBecoming?”.

Well to that I’d answer with “How about a US symphonic black metal band that has been around since 1998, have released 4 full length albums, have sounded convincingly  and honestly European without falling into whatever trend is popular at the time?”. Yeah, I’m talking about Texas’ Vesperian Sorrow.

Admittedly, it’s pretty slim pickings when it comes to US based Symphonic black metal as I can only recall a handful of top quality ones off the top of my head like Veneficum, recent discovery Anagnorisis, Withering Soul and such, but Vesperian Sorrow have been at it for a while now, and their fourth album shows a consistency and quality that deserves much more attention than they and the genre get.

With an approach that obviously culls from any band in the opening paragraph, (and some early Arcturus, I might add, but you’ll see why later), Vesperian Sorrow has a confident command of the genre with a convincing 90s European sound; bombastic, yet melodic and slicing riffs laced with majestic and laden with synths, whether sweeping regal chords or delicate piano tinkling. And those synths aren’t just window dressing or sugar coating, the music and riffs are equally adept and ooze quality and intensity. Throw in a typically lavish production and plenty of varied rasps, deep spoken words, growls and screams, and the recipe is complete.

Clocking in at just under an hour, Stormwinds of Ages, gets a little long winded at times (the songs average length hovers around 5-6 minutes) , but on the whole the material is excellent. After the requisite short intro “Sanguis Vitam Est”, the title track which is a perfect example of the bands overall sound, encompassing all of their influences and their own slight but sturdy thrash tones. The scathing start and keys of “An Empire to Mourn” really recalled Skyfire for me, while “Casting Dawn into Shadows” features some well done female vocals and sprawling solo work  to make it one of the album’s standouts. “Crown of Glass” mixes stern Dimmu Borgir-ish march n blasts with fuller orchestration and and a crystalline mid song break. “Legacies Befallen” is a pretty standard bombastic number with a slightly more somber tangent while “Eye of the Clock Tower” has a more bouncy, melodic gait and trot with some nice guest clean vocals (see below) . “Oracle of the Ashes” is the albums catchiest track with a nice chunky chorus  and its follow up”Relics of Impurity”  is one of the albums most vicious tracks before a clean vocal break and stern close out. Finally, the penultimate track, “Death She Cried” slows things down with something reminiscent of Cruelty and the Beast ‘s or Dusk and Her Embrace‘s slower more Gothic moments. The wonderfully titled “Of Opiates and Accolades” close the album out with another, intense, varied example of the genre that ends the album perfectly.

As if they need anymore credibility, the album features guest solos from Carl August Tidemann of Winds/Arcturus ( as well as some guest vocals from Erika Tandy, formerly of Autumn Tears, Jason McMaster of Watchtower and Jon Zig of Sarcolytic) to make an already top notch effort even more enjoyable and complete.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 23rd, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    love this style when it’s done right, and have never checked these guys out. adding them to my list of 2012 to-do’s. great writeup too, I never pegged you for a symphonic black fan.


  2. Commented by: IkilledNoe

    these guys were the biggest joke back in the day, they played shows in nuevo laredo a few times… didnt get the over triggered drumset and directionless keyboards back in 2002-3… or the singers thunderdome hair wig setup… maybe things have changed since then. then again they were always on top of the current metal trend

    if youre lookin for symphonic black metal, texas wouldnt be the first place to look, but to each their own…


  3. Commented by: gordeth

    In regard to your third paragraph, what about Ceremonial Castings? They’re the best symphonic USBM band in my opinion because they add some death and doom metal heft and atmosphere to the style. But, I also like what I’ve heard from this band.


  4. Commented by: E. Thomas

    sorry gordeth- i havent heard Ceremonial Castings and i try not to throw around bands i have not heard. I will check them out though.


  5. Commented by: gabaghoul

    yeah I thought of Ceremonial Castings as well but I am not as enamored of them as Gordeth is. best symphonic black I’ve heard in the last few years is still Stormlord but they’re Italian not US…


  6. Commented by: Adolf Oliver Fingers

    Abigail Williams…what a bad joke. . . .


  7. Commented by: gabaghoul

    digging this so far, good find


  8. Commented by: gordeth

    I’ll have to spin some Ceremonial Castings for you two on Turntable. Then you’ll be just as enamored with them. :)


  9. Commented by: Andy Synn

    “Hold on!, what about Abigail Williams‘ Becoming?”

    Some of us cried.


  10. Commented by: Subverseraph

    @ikilledNoe: BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!!!!! — Subverseraph (synths/back-up vocals)/VESPERIAN SORROW


  11. Commented by: Darconville

    For a terrific Symphonic Black Metal experience check-out the Norwegian band Gromth.

    Their “The Immortal” release is positively first rate.


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