The decade plus long journey to ‘Divine Cessation’ is almost more interesting than the album itself. Looking back to their earliest demo from a split on blackmetal.com to their first three full-lengths (I consider self-titled a demo, come on…) I see a band rolling with the punches and hitting their stride around ‘At War With’ in 2013. Around that time Samuel’s guitar compositions took a subtle shift from faintly melodic black metal to occult black metal with drum patterns that ventured into death metal territory in small bursts. In many ways ‘At War With’ was the bands ‘Harnessing Ruin’ with a lot of emphasis on fading transitions, atmospherics, and some pretty big riffs Valdur hadn’t pulled off before. The follow up ‘Pathetic Scum’ seemed like an adventure into raw black metal with a shorter playing time and less emphasis on the occult black metal traits.
The oddly tacked-on amateurish later tracks of ‘Pathetic Scum’ make a very slight return at the end of ‘Divine Cessation’ and after several listens it seems worth noting that Valdur aren’t so set on their sound. What I mean is that they’re keeping things interesting with subtle experimentation and different production and while that experimentation occasionally veers into awkward filler, they’re more interesting for it. The first three tracks of this album feature largely the same drum patterns, the same harrowing occult death metal growls, and variation comes almost solely from the guitar composition. It is a slight return to the sound of ‘At War With’ but the style leans fully into the death metal inspired occult black metal stuff. I like the obscured, reverb heavy sound of ‘Divine Cessation’ and I think it creates more interest for me personally compared to the bland screech of ‘Pathetic Scum’.
‘Divine Cessation’ is a solid three star album for me because it is superficially exciting and chaotic initially, perfect for getting hyped about, yet the more I listen the less profound the entire musical statement becomes. By comparison the last Nightbringer album unraveled itself from chaos into stunning dramatics across several listens, whereas the mystery is lost on ‘Divine Cessation’ after 3-4 listens. That isn’t to say there aren’t riffs and general depth here; there are many excellent guitar moments on the album and it doesn’t rely entirely on aesthetics or a cavernous reverberating mix. I would suggest Valdur’s discography is better experienced as a whole starting at the beginning and when put into context ‘Divine Cessation’ is an admirable next movement in an adventurous extreme metal career. Album art is beautiful stuff, also.
|Released||December 1, 2017|
|BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp!||Follow Valdur on Facebook|
Stalker of nightmares. 3.0/5.0
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