Völur’s debut album took inspiration from female figures from mythology. So it’s only right and proper that the Canadian trio’s follow-up release gives itself over to mythical male figures.
Ultimately though, it’s the sound that elevates Völur above many of their contemporaries, as they soar through the metal stratosphere almost like lost souls.
The well regarded German label Prophecy is responsible for some wonderfully creative and progressive sounds and Ancestors certainly fits neatly within this field.
Völur are actually from Toronto and their sophomore album certainly provides the ideal follow-up to their 2016 debut Disir. It features four lengthy compositions each named Breaker of…..
Breaker of Silence is an enthralling 15 minute opener, starting with gentle choral chants that gradually develop into a string melody with a hook so warm it could tuck you in at night. The cleanly picked rhythm grows into a full on symphonic overture with the previous whispy chants now emboldened, crisper and more assertive.
Ancestors is the second of a planned four album series from Völur designed to showcase various elements of the old Germanic spiritual world. Völur’s creations are given added depth by the intimate violin contribution of Laura C. Bates which resonates with an almost mediaeval presence.
Bass player Lucas Gadke is also in Blood Ceremony although that doom outfit are much more animated than Völur who prefer to coexist in almost existential state.
Payment certainly is to the fore at the start of Breaker of Skulls which is an altogether darker piece, full of distorted grooves, corrosive feedback and deathly cries.
Breaker of Oaths is a heavy-handed carpet of doom, thick layered with Gadke’s bass to the fore as Laura levels the landscape with her enticing violin work.
Shimmering vocals help create a haunting atmospheric ambience through which gentle melodies occasionally surface, almost like a whale coming up for air. At one point the music stops completely allowing a male/female vocal mix to deliver some sparse vocals although these suddenly part when the track unexpectedly dissolves into a cacophonous climax of aural attacks.
At almost 17 minutes, Breaker of Famine is the longest of the four tracks and certainly one of the gloomiest, as a funereal rhythm opens proceedings across an empty landscape in which you suspect little life remains. With time to spare a void is created initially before the song is given direction by Laura’s virtuoso violin skills before Völur show the flip side to their character as the pin is pulled on a furious fuzzed up hand grenade of sound with desperate cries and vocals audible in the melee.
For the first time on album the Toronto triumvirate allow their inner black metal hearts to surface as the descent into the darkness gathers momentum. As the flames slowly die down Völur fall into a more restful phase in which they allow medieval folk to filter through the now softening soundscape.
In fact the vividly contrasting styles, not just wrapped up on different songs, but actually within tracks, means that not everyone will be prepared to go the distance with such a lengthy piece of work as Breaker of Famine.
Overall though, Ancestors is a highly imaginative album that challenges, captivates and charms in equal measure.