VAMPIRSKA – Vermillion Apparitions Frozen in Chimera Twilight (2022)REVIEW

A restorative spell prepared by the dreaming skull of a grievous soul, a boon of nighttime magicks speared forth for the sake of the selfless and their endurances, this sophomore full-length from the mysterious solitude of black metal solo act Vampirska delivers its intent as if elaborate sutra, well hidden within the coda of a romanticist’s dramatic quill. ‘Vermillion Apparitions Frozen in Chimera Twilight‘ is neither as raw or pandering as it’d seem, a sudden sophistication of a project that’d appeared to have been dwelling in infancy for two years prior. Stylized for the present day as the experience is there are extended melodic experience available herein that’ll appeal to a broad range of folks attuned to the sentimental spectrum of this craft.

If you’d told me that Vampirska was an up-and-coming black metal project after listening to their version of “Frowning, Existing” by Sargeist on their ‘Noćna Razvratnost‘ (2019) demo tape I’d have laughed the tongue out of my skull at the time. The shuddering, intentionally lo-fi scorch of their first full-length ‘Torturous Omens of Blood and Candlewax‘ (2020) beyond wasn’t bad, though, a successfully melodic record arguably marred by the same canned rawness we’ve gotten so much of these last five years. Nonetheless, its fluid if not predictable riffing found some satisfying texture, at least enough to stand out within the tunnel vision of black metal trends today. If rawness enhances a musician’s well-developed technique or provides deeper shades of interest to clever songwriting, I’m there — But if the musician appears to struggle through the practical aspects of literally just playing the guitar (see: early LLN), I’ve got a thousand other options at any given time (whom also ape Shatraug‘s melodic knack). With this in mind I’d not been anticipating ‘Vermilion Apparitions Frozen in Chimera Twilight‘ as more than a study in stylized currency though I’d admit Vampirska had shown ambition and capability within a short period of time at that point.

The live-decaying and bleak vampyric black metal edge of their sound leapt from the tongues of vinyl and tape-hoarding babes throughout 2021 as splits with hip cults Drug Darkness, Wampyric Rites and Glemt built buzz for more yet we are not necessarily getting more of the same on this second full-length. Just as Hulder made the leap into well-rounded melodic statements on their debut last year so does Vampirska, incorporating atmospheric synth-laiden late 90’s black metal references within nigh chivalric though mostly sodden melodic guitar work. They’ve smartly chosen to focus on the emotional resonance available to longer rhythm guitar driven pieces which purposefully overstate extended melodic ideas since this is where the project has always been at its most immersive, the major change here otherwise comes by way of equal parts production value boosts and a slight increase in the variety of melodic choices, although most of the album rides the same wave with the same voice.

Channeled through astral projecting during a procession of grief the five major pieces here are showcase for the artists developing guitar work which is now presented via a minimum of ~3-4 well balanced guitar channels, a reasonably sound drum performance and nigh non-existent bass guitar reach. “Midnight: An Illusive Vision into the Boundless Sky of Mourning Stars with Prominent Eyes” begins with a build unto the song’s main statement, a quick angle in a different direction, and then a repeated variation of this dynamic before reaching its pensive exit riff which is gilded with celestial synth. Simple bones at a glance but while the positioning of these elements is a bit plain the actual events are evocative of grandeur and solemnity, soon giving way to the chivalrous gallop unto ego-death that “Astral Transfixion: My Heart Devoid of Any Entity” brings. Though the pause-and-transition movement of this second piece becomes a recurring tic in the greater ‘Vermilion Apparitions Frozen in Chimera Twilight‘ experience it works here much in the same way it does for indie rock bands, adding a but of punctuation to generally related modes throughout. Instead of presenting one pretty sweep of 2-3 riffs in a row for ten minutes as in the past now Vampirska conjures complete and affected songs which take some meaningful care in their placement and presentation of ideas.

Whether or not these 7-10 minute songs reach any sort of mastery is up to you and your own exposure to melodicism in black metal but for my own taste “Vermilion Apparitions: Five Hundred Sleepless Nights… Drained by Distress, All I See is Red…” specifically does present notable climax alongside album closer “The Vampyric Condition: Romanticism & Mystique Masked by an Empty Face… to Never be Seen Again…” within an already impressive thread, almost touching upon the yearning clangor of early pagan black metal within the first half of each song, reaching for wrist-wrenching chord modulation that brings worthy color. The full listen isn’t necessarily mind-blowing in terms of sheer innovative thought but the listening experience is beautifully illustrative and satisfyingly dramatic, at least for such an introverted set of pieces. While I’ve no real interest in reversing course back into past Vampirska works this second full-length is especially fine and represents a most serious-faced candor from the artist from my point of view. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (78/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:Vermillion Apparitions Frozen in Chimera Twilight
LABEL(S):Inferna Profundus Records
RELEASE DATE:March 1st, 2022

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