Written by: Callum Doig
If there’s an idea that you’ve come up with that’s disparate and new, nothing should stop you from giving it a shot to see what you can conjure up. When it comes to playing with their own range of diversity, Washington newcomers Vouna slice up elements of synth music with harmonious and tremolo guitars in the style of black and funeral doom metal, along with a handful of cinematic intricacies. With all of those coming into play, the final result comes as their debut self-titled record, where the first dosage of Vouna is more than just your ordinary doom n’ gloom.
As a whole, the aura of Vouna’s self-titled focuses primarily on a cinematic landscape, and encapsulates a tunnel of dreary, morbid sensations that reverberate in the instrumentation. It’s not an entirely vocal record, as Vouna place the spotlight on their musical arrangements, while still incorporating some melodies by vocalist Yianna Bekris. With just five tracks, Vouna provide an array of ominous and pulsating punches to the mix of funeral doom and even lacing it with traces of progressive music in the course of the album. A Place to Rest and Cattle are the two main pieces that really deliver the overall impression and consciousness of Vouna’s sonic fingerprint. The pummelling drums and abrasive digital instruments resonate on a very coarse and gravelling degree that makes the Vouna’s self-titled sound very rough and strenuous in the mixing.
While all the intricacies and different bells and whistles Vouna inoculate into the production seem stimulating to begin with, the question is if it all synchronises together accordingly and fluidly? Well, to an extent, they do, but it varies for all the different tracks inhabiting the record. For the most of it, the eerie and dismal guitar tones resonate really well just like any other funeral doom recording, and still capture some very grim moments along with the help of the continuous pounding on the drums. But, looking at the most unusual component of the album, the synth – there are a lot of hit and misses that partake in the process. Some of the orchestral-sounding synths take a much better stride as opposed to most of the scratchy, almost industrial kinda presets that try to fit the curve.
There are a few moments where the mixing gets really unsettling in the production’s point of view, and feel as though the mastering really didn’t cut through very well. Though I have to give to Vouna for a bold move in experimenting with synthesizers and doom metal, and I feel that there’s a lot more quality that the band would be able to conjure up so long as they play around with the digital instrumentation, resulting in what could very well be their own meat and potatoes. Despite this record having not much to offer throughout this audible journey, it’s not giving me the impression that Vouna won’t be able to succeed with this new approach in the principal of funeral doom music. I really think that the band have got something interesting going on, but it’s just going to take a lot more tinkering in order to really help them secure their sound as a new band.
Voluna’s self titled will be released via Artemisia Records November 9th, 2018