Chicago based black metal act Vukari initially started out as a duo. Spencer Morris (bass/keys/effects) and Marek Cimochowicz (guitars/vocals/keys,) employed the services of drummer John Hoffman (also vocalist of Weekend Nachos) to record and release their debut album Matriarch back in 2013, but that soon changed. The duo expanded its line-up to include John Becker and Mike DeStefano on drums/keys for the follow-up EP, En To Pan, continuing their explorations in the atmospheric black metal space, with a post-rock twist. Today, Vukari return, with a new guitarist in Richard Stancato, and unveil their newest full-length, to be released through Bindrune Recordings, Divination.
The members of this band are very well-versed in the atmospheric black metal approach. The ambiance is constantly present on the album, but it never becomes overwhelming, causing other elements of the music to disappear. The mixing aids greatly in that aspect, providing a very balanced result, and allowing some instruments, particularly the guitars, to pierce through the heavy veil of the ambiance. What is equally impressive is how the tone of the atmosphere morphs from abstract, with a certain depth, to more spacious and with an exploratory sense. It is overall apparent that the band makes a turn towards the mellower side of post-rock, especially in the construction of the soundscapes. This adds a bit of psychedelic touch, which with the inclusion of background effects crafts an interesting scenery. The post-rock element also infects the direction the melodic essence of Vukari is taking. The ethereal “Bathe In Divine Light” is an example of this free-flowing tone, in the way the track is structured, and how its peaks and drops are laid out.
Label: Bindrune Recordings
With the atmosphere and melodic elements playing such a vital part, one might expect that the black metal ferocity would have retreated in Divination. That is simply not the case here, and when Vukari manifest their black metal self, they become truly relentless. Hammering down blast beats and exposing their dissonant edge, alongside shrieking vocals and traditional black metal riffs, they do not lose any of the aggression present in the black metal genre. Bitter and unforgiving at times, they create an imposing background for the ongoing assault, or more devastating with an underlying epic sense, it is equally easy for them to produce melodic parts to enhance the energy of their track, or moments of inharmonicity to make the parts even more sickening.
Divination is a great step forward for Vukari. Even though post-rock has been applied to black metal before, the band is able to construct a very solid vision of their take on the genre, resulting in a fantastic record.