Written by Carcassbomb
- Acts Of Repentance
- Black Metal
- Perth, Australia
- March 20, 2020
- Transcending Obscurity Records
Alright, what is in the bloody water over at Perth? The amount of bands coming out of there at the top of their game is intense. It’s unlike anywhere else on the continent, and now they have Wardaemonic who are even on my favorite label, Transcending Obscurity. This label has good taste, almost every album that gets released there has some kind of quirk or progressive music ideology that separates the bands from their genre.
This isn’t just another black metal album, it’s an experience equally capable of being a mosher and a thinker. It unravels unto your mind and stirs something in your soul. Acts of Repentance releases on the 20th of March and will be one of this year’s highlights just based on the sound and presentation combination happening here. It’s a high quality and well-rounded album.
The two strongest aspects of this album is the vocals and the drumming. The vocalist is a higher pitched screamer that sounds like they could just as easily be in a hardcore band, there’s a sense of cross disciplinary vocalisation that synergises well with the rhythm of the music. Kind of like Cradle Of Filth where the vocals and melodic guitar parts unify in a satisfying way, but add some elements of metallic hardcore like Chamber or old Code Orange for a more concise edge to it all. I’m not saying those are good comparisons musically, I’m speaking more to the primal yet poetic nature of it all.
There’s also lower gutter vocals that usually have the highs layered over the top, I really enjoy those moments. The vocals fit into the song writing in such a way that perfect moments will come out of a build up – there’s just the right emphasis in the right position and it changes everything, giving energy to the listener like a call to action. There’s a lot of vision that isn’t clouded by the established rules of black metal as a genre – instead being able to see beyond it to create a unique heavy album with a consistent tone.
The drumming is great, I don’t know exactly what it is, perhaps a combination between tone and technique. There’s times where the drums are more inconspicuous behind the wall of riffs, and other times where they feel responsible for the majority of the momentum. The drummer can start tracks, end tracks or have a solo breakdown. There’s no limit for them, there is nothing they cannot accomplish within the soundscape, it feels as if the drummer is completely free and in their element. Straight roaming the album.
There’s a lot of versatility behind the kit on this one that generates a huge punch when needed as well as a flurry of little punches to accentuate moments where other bands don’t see opportunity. I don’t know how much sense that makes, I’m not a drummer myself but listening to this makes me wonder why I don’t hear more drumming like this on other black metal albums. They’re like crisp modern death metal drums.
Guess what? The vocalist and the drummer are the same person. There ya go, makes a lot of sense now.
That’s not to say the guitars and bass aren’t worth a mention. They are, after all, the basis of the sound through which the vocals and drums channel their playfulness. They get a decent amount of focus too with the bass lines chugging through audio samples or spiralling with the lead guitar licks. Acts of Repentance is a strong album with no weakest link, everyone is playing together and furthering their individual crafts at the same time.
Even the synth programing is done with a level of nuance that other bands lack, all the time I’m hearing symphonic black metal over do it, essentially being the little brother button mashing the controller in Street Fighter. Wardaemonic have done it so sensibly that it’s not a defining aspect of their identity but it does bring an extra layer to their sound when they need it. It’s hard to pigeon hole them into any specific category of black metal, they’re just black metal. Undeniable yet different.
This all gets tied together by great presentation with the album art and the story being broken up into 5 longer acts. The artwork comes from French artist Leoncio Harmr who also did the cover of Come The Tide by Eternal Storm. Their style is a clear indicator of a future heavy hitter in the metal art world, blending technique and aesthetic in such a way that sells physical media and makes for a memorable digital presence.
Overall, it’s another great release out of Australia and from Transcending Obscurity. Wardaemonic has challenged themselves and black metal with this record and it’s paid off. This is my entry point into the band and it has certainly cemented them on my radar here on out. The album ends in full strength, still finding ways to impress or surprise even in its final moments. There’s no fat and no filler, only a throughline of creativity and brutality that serve each as each others masters. I was really truly starting to get over black metal too so it’s good timing that this album found me.