Throughout my experience with dabbling in Black Metal, I’ve found that the low quality aspect of it has always struck a chord with me; and not in a good way. Call me a ‘poser fan’ or whatever you’d like for not understanding the genre in that aspect, but I feel that the less-than-average quality has to be complemented with some of the best musicianship I’ve heard at the very least. Take Emperor for example; although their albums (specifically ‘Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk’) have bad quality, it’s perfectly contrasted with Ihsahn’s songwriting abilities to the point where I recognize it as a true work of art. Whilst Valdur are one of those bands where the musical capabilities are developed and interesting, their upcoming release ‘Goat of Iniquity’ struggles to hit the mark for me.
Clocking in at just under 37 minutes with 6 tracks, I was very enticed by the lengths of the songs as I’ve developed a preconceived understanding in my head that tracks that are longer than 8 minutes very, very often showcases the band’s musical abilities and dedication to the craft (see 24 minute long song The Greatest Show on Earth by Nightwish). This got me all the more excited to delve into the tracks and truly analyse and propel my understanding of the band, with Goat of Iniquity/Devouring the Whore of Darkness and (Iniquitus) both passing the 8/9 minute mark.
The title track of the album, Goat of Iniquity/Devouring the Whore of Darkness did prove to be promising in the beginning, with gloomy overtones and the typical ‘Black Metal’ blast beats, but I’d be lying if I said that the track in itself didn’t drag on, leaving me dreading the rest of the listen. I think it’d be moreso (unknown vocalist)’s performance and the way it was mixed; it’s as if their producer threw as much reverb and delay as could possibly be thrown over the top of a vocal part, and just kept it there for the whole album.
I do feel like I might repeat myself here in terms of criticizing the vocalist, but I feel like my opinion might be swayed in a more positive direction if I could at least understand his lyricism, or even better, have them available to me. I always find that regardless of performance or quality, an incredibly major aspect that always catches my attention in Black Metal would be the lyrics, and I genuinely believe Valdur can be one of those bands that would keep me hooked. It’s one of the few genre’s that dabble in Satanism and Occultism to such an extent that regardless of topic, they always find a way to make it undoubtedly, naturally evil and interesting.
The actual songwriting capabilities and performance of the band is definitely what saved this album and brought it up to a 7/10 in my eyes. The band doesn’t just utilize the typical criteria for Black Metal, but bring in a lot of influence from Doom (no, not the game) and create an unsettling, dark and evil atmosphere that creates a sense of restlessness throughout the whole album, and it’s definitely commendable. The best example throughout this album is the last track on the album and the second longest, (Iniquitus).
The whole 8 minute track is literally pure ambience, but it creates an aura that doesn’t necessarily make you want to turn it off, but it leaves you uneasy and almost disturbed, and honestly, this track is what saves the album. Although it does seem a bit hypocritical of me to believe that the best track is the only one where no members actually play on it, but the atmosphere comprised of restlessness and pure darkness is really captivating and memorable, not just because you were treated to an onslaught of blast beats and death for 29 minutes, but because it adds depth to the story that Valdur have produced with ‘Goat of Iniquity’.
Although it seems like I’m pretty quick to shut it down, once the album is actually released and the lyrics become available (I hope), I feel like my opinion is going to sway completely in the other direction. Just from the pure development of chaos and darkness alone, this could very well be an interesting album with a lot more to it than just ambience, reverb on vocals and blast beats.