Review by Espi Kvlt
Valravne – Some Kind of Vampire – Remastered
Black Metal from Asheville, North Carolina
Released on May 7, 2021
I was pleasantly surprised to see Valravne’s name pop up in my inbox beside the title of a new album that is actually a remaster of an album I recently covered in my column (Join the Kvlt: Trve Qveer Black Metal). Before sitting down with it, I listened to the original version of Some Kind of Vampire again, just to make sure it was fresh in my mind before going on to review this new album. I feel it bears repeating how much I love Some Kind of Vampire. It’s dark, it’s haunting, and it opens up with a monologue by famous anti-drag queen David Hoyle aka The Divine David. It also should be noted that this remaster features tracks from the second in the series, Some Kind of Vampire II, which, of course, follows the similar eerie and brutal sounds as its predecessor, though perhaps with even more ferocity.
Moving on to the Some Kind of Vampire – Remastered, the album opens up with a remaster of the song “Feeding on the Souls of Man,” which is a retitled version of the Some Kind of Vampire opener, “Contempt for All Humankind.” It again opens with the magnificent spoken word, but when the instrumentation kicks in on this version, it punches you right in the teeth. Often when I listen to a remastered album, the difference is only slight. Just a bit louder and/or cleaner. But this album’s lead song isn’t messing around. If you wanted to hear this album to its full potential, then this track is screaming, “Here you go.” It is followed up by “Some Kind of Vampire,” which was my favorite on the original album with its groovy riffs. On this album you can hear said riffs loud and clear and really dance to them. The vocals, as well, shine through much brighter on this version, allowing you to fully appreciate both the fun singing and the stellar spoken word performance. The scream at the end, as well, hits with such a harder punch thanks to the cleaned-up production of this record. The last song from the first Some Kind of Vampire is “Vada in my Ecaf,” a slower tune with more doomy instrumentation and vocals. Again, the cleaner production allows the full assault from the performance to penetrate your ears and left me walking away from this track feeling like this was how it was meant to be the whole time.
Moving on to the two songs from Some Kind of Vampire II, starting with “Nothing Left to Corrupt,” the attention-grabbing opener from the original album. It grabs your attention even more with this remaster. If you were feeling a bit relaxed after “Vada in my Ecaf,” this song will jolt you right awake. The best thing about the remaster is getting to hear that neat little guitar solo in all its cleanly produced glory, allowing me to appreciate how great it was much more than I did originally. The speedy riffs keep up their stride with the next song, “I Only Pray For Your Death,” which are again brought to their full potential on this remaster, as well as the spoken word section sounding all the more spooky with how clearly you are able to hear it, and the guitar solo on the track once again leaving me breathless in a way it didn’t on the original production.
The second-to-last track, “Nero,” is from the band’s self-titled demo and first release. The difference in sound quality and production value is most striking here, for the better. This song has an almost psychedelic quality throughout it that, on the original version, sounded more like harsh noise than the moving instrumentation we hear on this remastered version. The spoken word by Charles Bukowski was barely audible on the original, but on the remaster, it is enchanting and striking, as is the glorious instrumentation behind it. This song no longer sounds like it came off the first demo of a black metal band, but instead sounds seasoned, professional, and lovely.
The album closes with a brand-new song, “Exesquiae,” a slow-moving song that fitting to its name reminds me more of funeral doom than black metal. With just a single lyric repeated throughout, “It all meant nothing,” this song gripped itself to my lungs and did not allow me to breathe until it had finished. Though I still adore the track “Some Kind of Vampire” with its fun riffs, this ghostly song ended up being my favorite on this album. Perhaps the novelty of it being new had a little to do with it, but I could truly feel tears welling in my eyes as I heard that painful line screamed over and over behind instrumentation that sounded straight out of a funeral procession. I already loved the original Some Kind of Vampire series, so much so that I included it on a list of my favorite queer black metal bands. Which is why I feel comfortable giving this album a perfect 10/10. Valravne managed to take songs I love and make them even better, something I rarely think possible. Combine that with the strength of the closing track, and I consider this a perfect album.