Videoclip of the Month!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Imperious - Varus

Imperious - Varus

Varus is Imperious’s debut album which was released by Heretic Visions Productions in 2011. These guys are a black metal band hailing from Germany. When people think of German black metal, you could almost guarantee that the bands Endstille and Equilibrium will come to mind. But there aren’t many German bands that seem to take influence from traditional or first wave black metal, all those bands seem to be moving forward with the times. Black metal from Germany, typically, doesn’t sound like anything from the Norwegian, Finnish or Polish scenes. Now these guys are quite different from what we normally find in the German black metal scene. These guys are more like their first wave predecessors, carrying on the unspoilt black metal sound from the times of Bathory.

As I might have implied in the opening paragraph, these guys are a traditional sounding black metal band. So unlike the modern day style you typically find in Germany these days, the sound that these guys have is a lot softer and the music doesn’t aim at brutality of showman ship in their music. There seems to be a strong influence here (and correct me if I’m wrong) from bands such as Bathory, who have that epic black metal sound in their music. The drumming isn’t overly fast and the song writing and song structure isn’t as complex as say, bands from the late 80s and early 90s era. To me, epic black metal sounds like it has that same song structure, speed and pace of raw black metal band… without the rawness of course. The two main instruments that I think are responsible for this type of sound are the guitars and the drumming. I can’t exactly put my finger of what makes that signature high pitch sound of the drumming which is so unique to epic black metal, but it’s there.

Once you venture deeper in this dark abyss which is Varus, you start getting some signs that tell you that epic and first wave black metal aren’t the only things that are being played out there. The guitars riffs sound a little folky rather than epic blackish. So yeah, the music has a folk metal feel thrown in there complements their epic black style and the style of vocals the vocalist uses. Also, it’s gives this band an opportunity to get some atmosphere happening in their music because there is very little that is brought about by the epic black sound. Not only this, but like many folk/folk black bands out there today, there have an uplifting quality to their music. Something that cannot be replicated in other forms of rock/metal. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same style that you have heard a million times before from other bands. Rather than just jumping into all the folkish elements into their music, they take a more progressive approach. This is probably because of the epic black parts in their music.

I think that every single black metal fan out there (or anyone with a relative knowledge of black metal and it’s components) will know that atmosphere plays a massive role in the creation of their music. Without atmosphere is like trying to prepare a sandwich without any bread, because you know that it just won’t work. Black metal probably wouldn’t be able properly without some kind of evidence or traces of atmosphere. Now there are two major atmospheres that are utilized in Imperious’s music and the simple way of describing it would be light and dark. Light from the folk black side to their music and darkness from the epic black side to their music. The contrast between these two “territories” in their music is what I think is the best part of their song writing. Also, there is not track on this album that only has the one style. Since all the tracks (other than the intro) are at least seven minutes or longer, there is plenty of room to mix and match until they have sound their perfect combination.

Musically, like many epic black bands out there, the music is quite loose and this isn’t a negative thing about their music though. It is almost like the epic black metal charm to their music. But the thing is that, they don’t show anything instrumentally with that “WOW” factor. I don’t think that this album would be remembered as having the best drumming, vocals, or guitar work. But the composition of their music is much more important the skilfulness of members. But there is just something about their music that doesn’t seem to satisfy the band criteria. Rather than sounding like one unit. It seems that each member is playing their part, but for some reason each part doesn’t seem to fit as well as what I could have. It sounds like the band members would have just met on the street or of the band members held auditions. But over time, I think that musicianship will grow and flourish.

There are a few decent tracks on this album. All of them (except for the introduction) are 7 minutes or over, this leaves a massive amount of room to cram in some much needed variety in their music, and the combination of epic black and folk black is an almost perfect mixture. The opening track is Publius Qunctilius Varus and, like 99% of all opening tracks ever, it gives the first impression on this album and the band’s music. Ultimately, it lets the listener decide whether or not to continue listening to this album. I must say, this was an excellent first impression to their music. The music had everything that you could possibly expect for this band; folk and epic black elements as well as magnificent song writing and song structure. This is a track that lets the music take hold, and the vocals come second place. It’s all about atmosphere. Skip a couple of tracks and you hit 3 Legions March. After the repetitiveness of the previous tracks, this track goes in a different direction. There are a few hints of death metal style riffs here and even a touch of progressive metal. The music is slower and (dare I say it) a lot more soothing than everything else in the album. This is an excellent track to unwind to. The last track to mention is 9 a.d., Autumn, now before I jump straight into the mechanics of  this track. I must point out that this is a 19 minute song which is longer than some demos out there. This track is another soothing track , just like 3 Legions March except it seems a lot more sinister. There is an almost evil feeling behind their music. Still an excellent track though.

Overall, Varus is not a bad debut album release. The main highlights to their music would have to be their; atmosphere song writing and song structure. There is a certain beauty that is associated with this style of music, and it comes from the folkish side of their sound. And there is also a very dark, sinister side to their sound which comes from the epic black elements. It is the contrast between the two which essentially make their music a whole lot better. I recommend this album to any black metal fans out there. Although if you are looking for anything overly depressive or extremely insane, this might not be for you. This is mainly for fans of the likes of bathory and burzum. I’d also like to recommend the track Publius Qunctilius Varus for people who just want a quick taste (7:40 minute taste) of this bands sound. For those who are looking for something more soothing, you cannot go past the tracks 3 Legions March and 9 a.d., Autumn, they literally take you to another world. Overall, this was a great first impression to this bands sound, I think that Imperious is a band to keep track on radar in the future. I give this a 15/20.

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