So much of James Coulter‘s descriptions of the greater metaphysical aspects of the moderately thoughtful Germanic Heathenry rest in the mind like dry toast on the palate. Though descriptions of the tenets of the Will and Wit are at least inspiring the Soul itself is chunked down to a toss up between a Roman Catholic propaganda tool used to prey on idiots and an adorable sobriquet used by primal man to describe lifeforce as a burp from god into a husk. Disappointing as this may be, the correlation Coulter makes between the Grecian concept of the diamon and the wōdaz (“wode”) as the divined inspirational passion of man, those higher states of being that stir him to greatness, is apt at face value. As satisfying as it is to correlate possession by Wodan and that of a daimon for the sake of simile in describing the forces that stir a man to great bouts of poetry or uh, prolific murder, it misses the deeper role and personal meaning of a daimon. The concept itself is hardly mythological and more relevant to the symptoms of Hellenistic religion which often attached puppet strings between unknown forces and the inexplicably random nature of man. Though it appears as a serious religious belief the importance of these daimonic interventions could be likened to a superstitious child moralizing that ‘Santa’ is watching, or a Christian zealot who thanks their imaginary God for any number of things. I won’t say that I haven’t known many musicians who appear to be possessed by Wodan, though, and in perusing the multitudes of Wulkanaz mastermind Kumulonimbus (Wagner Ödegård) a case could be made for divine inspiration through lo-fi black metal insanity.
The work of a dark artist and a rabid multi-instrumentalist, the fourth album from Wulkanaz again impresses by way of a raw black metal performance spiked with intermittent folk metal melodicism and punched in the temple by early European hardcore punk. Always with a short fuse and a rabidly intelligent abandon, early Wulkanaz spoke in an entirely different musical language than Kumulonimbus’ work with the atmospheric sleepiness of Tomhet despite the project more or less picking up as Tomhet seemed to be going nowhere. Aesthetically raw but never intensely sloppy, Wulkanaz‘ works previous to the addition of drummer Daniel Halén (original Craft drummer) on ‘Paralys’ developed a precise and texturally satisfying hammer on the drum kit that was thankfully well adopted by Halén since. ‘Wulkanaz’ only builds upon the crunch-and-buzzing nature of ‘Paralys’ but instead of leaning into the sort atmospheric scuzz required of longer song arrangements this record focuses with a punkish berzerker’s rage throughout. Think of it as if an album with thirty percent more “Upphören” dispersed throughout.
As prepared as I was to needle through the album’s innards divining connections with Arckanum‘s anti-cosmic mysticism and experimentation, the atmospheric values of Domgård and Grá or even the drowned production and inspiring compositions of early Slaegt… Very little of those expectations, Arckanum being mildly fitting, were met and perhaps because I hadn’t kept a closer eye on previews of the release. The superficial appeal of this style is not a far toss from your average modern European blackened hardcore punk throwback unit (Kvelertak, Nag etc.), albeit with some sense of inspirational folkish rock melody. That isn’t to say that Wulkanaz aren’t offering what is perhaps a new peak for the Swedish raw black metal spectrum, in fact ‘Wulkanaz’ can and should be a remedy for folks stymied by the relatively bland regalia of popular Scandinavian black metal today (Craft included); The shorter song lengths emphasize the ‘hooks’ of the overall roller coaster and get to ‘the point’ quite a bit faster than your average Taake release.
‘Wulkanaz’ is at just the right length and density of ideas that several spins in succession make for a thrilling and spiritually enchanting listening session. All matter of gristly guitar texture and echoing rasps hum atop inspired and precise drum patterns for what I’d consider a distillation of second wave Scandinavian black metal’s original intent and energy; Something prescient and abruptly freed from the turgid excess instrumentation of ‘modern’ black metal lends Wulkanaz the character of an entity possessed by Wodan after all, inspired by rage and unto insatiably rabid poetic creation. There is some madness in a track like”Stiärnväv” which carries as much Totalitar in its attack as it does Von or Absurd, likewise “Andanom” could have come from band like Rattus if provided a d-beat instead of rolling rock beats. My personal favorite of the more inspired ‘punk’ songs “Skymmeng” recalls the very best of Bone Awl with more than just the aesthetics of black metal attached.
There is some element of impressive mastery here that may not come as any great surprise if already familiar with Wulkanaz but I’d ultimately argue for several layers of worth beyond rawness, punk influence, and inspirational folk accents. Though it is a magnificent listen with a lot of replay value the overall experience is scattered and cryptic enough that whatever message it conveys lyrically is lost beneath the energetic rapid-fire hex of it all. I can highly recommend this album without hesitation, though you might need some appreciation of raw black metal and/or blackened punk/metal hybridization. For preview “Lykta och Bloss” is representative of almost all aspects and ground covered within ‘Wulkanaz’ but I’d also recommend it paired with the militant kick of “Stiärnväv”.
En evighet i korridorerna. 4.25/5.0
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