Erdve – “Vaitojimas” (Season of Mist records)
Large parts of Europe are currently suffering a white lightning Siberian storm. Another icy Baltic blast is probably not what most people are after at the moment.
However, much like the UK’s much heralded ‘Beast from the East’, Vaitojimas is a raging storm all of its own, although of course the colour is deepest black rather than the purest white.
Erdve were formed in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in 2016 and Vaitojimas is their six-track debut album. It’s a ferocious piece of work but one that’s easy to immerse yourself with. While Vaitojimas translates as ‘gibberish moaning’ there is actually a lot more going on here, tempos are mixed while mood swings range from tepid cold shallow streams interlocked with titanic torrents of aural atrophy.
Within these songs the concept is of an emotional void in which the rule book is kicked asunder and anything goes as morals collapse and animalistic barbarism surfaces. Within this background of bestial mayhem and carnage Erdve – which translates as ‘of space’ – have successfully strung together some striking compositions, interjected with some sparkling moments to alleviate the blackened burden that lies at the heart of this release. Although essentially a debut release the strength that lies at the core of Vaitojimas confirms that the four members of Erdve are no novices. Between them, they have been involved with acts such as Nyksta, Sraigés Efektas and Spirale.
Things begin with the album’s title track, vocalist Vaidotas waking up any lightweights with a bearlike roar. What follows are some clattering guitar chugs, occasional well-timed punctuation points, and a riff pattern that just won’t come out in the wash. Apparently the inspiration behind the album in part stemmed from a Bulgarian documentary in which the horrors of abandoned orphaned children was graphically captured. As album openers go ‘Vaitojimas’ reflects something of that horror and pain, gaining your interest from the explosive opening and then refusing to relinquish its bareknuckle grip as it climbs to a punishing and yet tumultuous peak.
‘Isnara’ is the longest track at almost eight minutes. This gives the song ample time to develop, build atmosphere through pummelling repetition, while flavouring the caustic contours with finely executed warmer grooves. Something of Neurosis and Swans prevails here, that similar slightly disturbing intensity that conjures that feeling of uncertainty as to what direction they are going to take next.
Carrying a more primal edge is the hard-hitting ‘Prievarta’ which ventures at times towards a more grind core territory, capable of dislodging anything in its path. Captivating tremolo skills shine on the instrumental ‘Apverktis’ until suddenly the mournful ambiance dissolves as a tectonic plate shift unleashes a wave of throbbing riffage. ‘Pilnatve’ restores a semblance of order for a minute or so before a rough as nails riff takes over, the sound again builds momentum into something approaching a crescendo at which point Vaidotas steps in with another larynx ripping roar.
Erdve explore the kind of moral landscape most of us would probably prefer not to dwell on, whether it’s domestic abuse, substance addiction poverty or mental health issues. It’s heavy going and the demonstrative delivery of these six engrossing tracks captures something of these soul searching questions as an unedifying backdrop.
Closer ‘Atraja’ kicks straight in with jolty barbed wire riff patterns that are likely to tear straight through your jeans. With some spiralling solo work adding further dimensions and Valdas pummelling away on his drumkit the whole thing sinks into a sprawling seismic sludge.
While the Baltic states are perhaps among the last reaches of Europe yet to fully embrace and create extreme music, Erdve are certainly opening a few doors with this release.