There’s been some hype surrounding the Portugese trio’s Viles Vitae debut release on
Caverna Abismal Records, and for legitimately good reason. The EP is entitled IV in representation of the four cardinal elements and the music itself is intended to be ceremonial for the black magician. This kind of camp mystic is something that is missing in a lot of modern black metal that, quite frankly, takes itself too seriously. This is the kind of dark esotericism that drew me to black metal as a teenager. Viles Vitae is doing it right with their dark image, kvlt album artwork, and occult focus.
The image is for nothing, however, if they don’t have the music to back it up. Fortunately, Viles Vitae brings it hard with their debut, which is a formidable work of dissonant, hate-filled art. Lacking a bass player, IV is treble heavy, reminiscent of the old school second wave. I wonder if the addition of a bass line would fill out the somewhat thin sound in some areas of the album. This transgression is minor, however, and Viles Vitae seems to do just fine without a bass player. The polishing of the production is limited, giving the EP a raw and hungry feel.
What stuck out to me were Vulturius’ vocals. They have a tortured aura to them that feels genuine. No screeching, Vulturius’ tone is more of an afflicted, emotion inducing wail. The riffs are somewhat formulaic in parts and lacking in true originality, but they’re so expertly executed that their predictability is forgivable. I really love the atmosphere this band creates. Combining the melodic nature of their riffs with long intervals of nature inspired feedback really helped bring to life the ritualistic experience the band was striving for.
Each track on this album could stand alone. The two tracks that stuck for me were Sunless Redeemer and Theory of Deconstruction, with their emotional atmosphere and captivating progressions. Overall, Viles Vitae has a promising future playing orthodox black metal and this debut is a testament to that. I’m excited for what’s to come from this band.