June 28, 2013

Vukari - Matriarch

Review by Andy Osborn.

Artwork by Elizabeth Puetz

A new force has risen in the American Midwest. Chicago duo Vukari just debuted their first recording, and it’s a multi-headed beast of an album. They play the best kind of black metal; atmospheric, ethereal, and somewhat indescribable. This is dark art, disguised as music.

As you begin the transition into their aural world you’ll notice that the crushing-yet-uplifting approach is oddly familiar, and it becomes very clear that this project isn’t just some weekend hobby. These guys know what they’re doing. That’s because although Matriarch is the group’s first album, there are years of metallic experience under the group’s individual belts. Bassist Spenser Morris also plays in Vit – a band we explored way back in 2011 – and spends his days recording bands in the Chicago area. He teamed up with a friend, and the two of them hired Weekend Nachos singer John Hoffman to fill in on drums for the recording. And between them, a horribly perfect formula reaches equilibrium.

With the first two tracks both feeling a bit on the intro side of things, Matriarch takes its time growing into itself. But when it arrives it does so flawlessly. “Robes of Crimson Gold” is the first full taste of the band’s potential and it wastes no time cycling between the magic black metal formula of tremolo attack, soul-crushing vocals and melancholic melodies. Textured keyboards are tucked neatly behind the guitars with just enough dynamics and caress to elicit that heavenly aura that’s the staple of great atmospheric bm. After another interlude we arrive at the meat of the album, where Vukari truly shine.

“Midwife Crisis” may sound like the title of a cheesy sitcom episode, but the longest track preseneted is a devastating slab of blackened doom. The downtrodden melodies are slowed to an introspective pace, but sandwiched inside them is one of the most brilliant sparks of the album; a furious, fiery bridge that drives you between the more somber moments as it burns and collapses under its own weight. The last track further experiments with the mixture of all that is icy and heavy. It ends with a post-rock finale that barely gives you time to reflect upon what you just experienced, so you might as well dive right back in.

The 28-minute debut costs a mere pittance at their Bandcamp page, and as this is shaping up to be one of the most intriguing debuts of the year it’s more than worth the cost. Just over a week has passed since their first album was released, but be prepared to remember Vukari. Only more great things can await.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

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