By Hera Vidal. Sound expansion in black metal usually leads to a polarizing reaction. On one hand, you have people who applaud bands who use different tonalities and incorporate them into their music. On the other hand, you have people whoBy Hera Vidal.
Sound expansion in black metal usually leads to a polarizing reaction. On one hand, you have people who applaud bands who use different tonalities and incorporate them into their music. On the other hand, you have people who make it a point in their lives to not listen to anything outside of their comfort zone or choose to comment on how certain subgenres shouldn’t change. I am in the sound expansion camp, and I fully believe black metal will continue to evolve, both in sound and in lyrical content.
Will I regret this when I reach the end?
No satisfaction, it’s all just pretend
I need to find it before it’s too late
I carry this fear an unbearable weight
Regret is an album filled with a woe and melancholy that seems to imprint onto the listener. There is also something quite simplistic about the music, especially given their influences. Black metal is there, but they also have a prominent shoegaze sound and a bit of progressive metal going on. These elements give the album some character and seek to experiment rather than stay in the same repetitive state. However, it is a bit slow in the beginning and it doesn’t start to pick up until the third track, “Inertia”. Here, things start to change around the 2:00 mark, and it becomes an explosion of color and warmth. There is this guitar riff that launches into a vibrato and the sound it makes catches your attention. This hits you when you least expect it and you have to wonder why they made that choice. That’s when you realize that the progressive metal bit comes late into the album, and you can only keep listening as you try to pick up your jaw from the floor.
For the most part, there is a criteria for creating the black metal sound: the dissonance, the high-pitch screaming, blast beats, and passages of instrumental music. However, this album lacks the dissonance and the high-pitch screaming usually seen in most black metal. It sounds like Vagrond took out important parts of the black metal sound, injected shoegaze-like vocals, progressive metal guitar tonalities, and deconstructed it in its entirety. It’s striking, and it’s a combination I want to see more of in the future. My only concern is that the album feels too short, despite its tracks’ lengths; however, I do understand that extending the playing time would make the album stale.
All in all, Regret is a blueprint to create new sounds within a genre that has become saturated over time, and I do hope that this blueprint only helps expand the typical black metal sound. Why try to stop the inevitable in a subgenre where lo-fi distortions are seem as an aesthetic choice rather than a criteria? Vagrond has potential and, despite their substantial releases, I do hope they continue to experiment with their sound.