Album Review: 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre – 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre 8.5 (Folk/Black Metal)

Written by Zax

  • 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre
  • 殞煞 Vengeful Spectre
  • China
  • Folk/Black Metal
  • January 15, 2020
  • 8.5/10

It’s very rare I get to cover music from Asia, it’s even more rare that I get to cover music with traditional Asian instrumentation and folk roots. This brings us to Vengeful Spectre, a band that combines black metal with traditional Chinese folk music, and oh my god does it work. It works so well in fact, that I’m very surprised this is the first time I’ve heard something like this.

Vengeful Spectre are a brand new band, formed in the spring of 2019, and this debut album is absolute gold. It’s always astounding to me when a band can release a record this good on their first go around. Clocking in at only 36 minutes, It’s pretty compact for a black metal record, but it accomplishes a lot over it’s run time.

Lyrically the album is centered around war, and that feeling is communicated very well. Listening to this album feels like being in the middle of a dark dank battlefield fighting for your life, the amazing cover art represents this feeling greatly.

殞煞 Vengeful Spectre: Bandcamp / Facebook

The record kicks off with the ambience of whipping winds and falling debris amidst the sounds of what I believe is a Dizi, or a Chinese flute, before an avalanche of black metal crushes down on you. When I first heard the record, the transition from that mysterious yet peaceful ambience to the black metal genuinely startled me. It’s pretty raw all things considered, the riffs are dangerously sharp and ear piercing whilst the drums hammer away and the bass holds up the low end quite nicely. Of course the Chinese instrumentation is weaved into the black metal as well, mainly with what I believe is a string instrument called the Guzheng, but don’t quote me there, Chinese instruments aren’t exactly my field of expertise.

The vocals are incredibly abrasive, the screams stay in the higher register for most of the record. I think the vocal mixing could be a little better here, the vocals seem separated from the instrumentation and distant. This mixing style is very common in black metal though, and as it is, it plays to the rawness of the record quite effectively.

While most of the album is fast and harsh, make no mistake, there is plenty of ambience and atmosphere, mosty as we fade in to and out of the tracks. We also get a slower more riff heavy track titled “Wailing Wrath” that’s actually one of my favorites on the track list, lot of doom vibes on that one. My favorite is “Rainy Night Carnage” which really makes perfect use of it’s unqiue instrumentation.

I get the feeling this album will only grow on me with time. I’ve seen a little bit of hype for it in certain circles, but I definitely think it deserves more. It’s unique and compelling while maintaining the primitive nature of a good black metal record.

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