|Cover art by John Cobbett|
Profound Lore Records recently added the (almost) self titled debut full-length from so-called super group Vhol to their Bandcamp catalog. Vhol is comprised of various band members from diverse groups such as Agalloch, Hammers of Misfortune, and YOB, amongst others. Given this pedigree, you’d expect the music to be of a high caliber, and that’s exactly what you get. Vhol’s music is a bit hard to describe, though. The music sounds almost nothing like the various band members’ other projects, but, at the same time, it sounds exactly like you would expect from such accomplished musicians more or less coming from the same geographical area and related scenes.
If that sounds confusing, it is, but Vhöl is sort of a weird mix between Cascadian black metal, crust/ punk, and the progressive approach and iconography of Voivod. That’s an interesting mix, to say the least, but the description gets further muddied when you toss in some clean vocals sung with harmony and melody that share the stage with lower pitched growls. You might be surprised to learn that Mike Scheidt of YOB does the vocals.
The music is fast with a jangly, almost trebly tone. Scheidt’s effective vocals have a tendency to soar, giving the music a very uplifting feeling. What really anchors the sound, though, is the amazing drumming of Aesop Dekker, giving the percussion a very infectious, raucous tempo that showcases the band’s nods to crust and punk. Accompanying the percussion very nicely are great bass lines from Sigrid Sheie, also of Hammers of Misfortune.
The debut from Vhol will initially be a challenging listen for some listeners. But, the challenge is worth your while, as the payoff is rewarding.