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Melodic death metal has become a very predictable genre as of late. You've got your Soilwork types, your At the Gates types, your Dark Tranquillity types, and your Amon Amarth types all within plain view; sure, they all may be entertaining, but they sure don't bring anything new to the plate. There are a few glimmers of originality here and there, yes, but for every one The Absence or Disarmonia Mundi you've got ten copycats. There really hasn't been much that has separated itself from the pack.
Enter Vornagar. These guys are, for the most part, a bunch of unknowns, aside from drummer extraordinaire Marco Pitruzzella. In all honesty, it was Lord Marco himself that made me notice this band. I had heard his work in Brain Drill (yes, we know, Brain Drill sucks), and I must say that I was greatly impressed by the dude's incredible speed and precision, which stood out significantly among the rest of the band. I then decided to see if he had been in anything better, and lo and behold, I happened across Vornagar. I was not disappointed.
First off, by melodic, I don't mean faggy Gothenburg plagiarism. I'm talking epic, charging into battle melodic. These guys are also very creative and original songwriters, seamlessly switching from an epic tremolo/blast section to an upbeat, almost hummable melody, or into a tech break that manages to impress without sounding wanky in any way. Solos are fairly rare, but when they occur, they're a sight to behold: no iffy notes, just beautifully melodic and played with impeccable precision. Speaking of precision, Marco is something else. First off, he's fucking FAST. I'm not talking for short bursts either, I'm talking long, sustained minigun blasts. And he's no one-trick pony, either; he's capable of playing some pretty mindbending passages with seemingly no difficulty. Rounding out the members, the bassist is, well, the bassist: totally inaudible. Finally, we've got the vocalist, who again is excellent. He's got a very commanding yet audible tone, sounding a whole lot like Jonah Hegg or Tomas Lindberg, which is definitely not a bad thing. It's even better when you consider the lyrics, which are wonderfully varied and written with great diction and flow.
Highlights? Pretty much the whole fucking album, actually. You've got the amazing chorus melody of Charge of the Dark God, the furiously catchy Hyperion, the epic The Desolation Called Niflheim, the incredibly complex and varied Ballad for a Dying Race, and the monstrous blast-fest Defiling the Sepulcher of Christ, but as I said, those merely stand out just a tad more than the others. There is no such thing as a bad track on this album. What sweetens the deal even more is that these guys put this up for free download, so all you have to do is go to Rapidshit and start downloading! Yep, that's the icing on the cake. In short, I cannot recommend this album enough. DL NAO.
Finally, we have a melodic death metal that does not sound overly Swedish! This fact alone elevates Vörnagar to the elite group containing the likes of Aeveron, Be'lakor and Kronos. Rather than being “melodicdeathmetal”, Vörnagar play death metal that is very melodic.
Riffs are very well played. Vörnagar are not exactly the most complex of bands, but nor are they simplistic. They are a good mix of tremolo picked melodies and harmonies, technical smoothness and the occasional bit of death metal chugging. The guitars suffer from some thinness – it sounds as though they were recorded through a 10W practice amp. But as a black metal fan, a bit of a thin guitar tone does not ruin it for me. I can not imagine The Bleeding Holocaust produced like Opeth, for example. Interestingly, the guitar solos are soaked in reverb. At first, it sounds very out of place, but it is by no means awful.
Vocals are quite strong. Carl Pitliek does not have a brilliant range, but he uses what he has very well – see “When The Mist Hath Fallen”. Unfortunately, the vocals suffer from the same thinness that affects the guitars. With a bit of warmth and reverb, I think the vocals could be more appealing. But again, I can not really imagine the album with anything else.
The reason most of you will have found Vörnagar, however, is through their mind-blowing drummer, Marco Pitruzzella. As well as playing for Brain Drill and touring with Vital Remains, Lord Marco has this excellent project Vörnagar. And the drumming is genuinely phenomenal. Marco places excellent accents in interesting places, and has incredible control. Everything is so clear, Marco has no real room for error, and plays consistently excellently. One particularly exciting skill is his control of the gravity blast – best shown at around 3.17 in “Hyperion”. Strangely, considering the guitars and vocals, the drums are mixed beautifully.
Vörnagar uses choruses to great effect. Memorable lines such as “Carry on, Endymion” and “The human race is cast into oblivion... Oblivion!” are very exciting.
Vörnagar is a great band for people interested in hearing melodic death metal that does not sound like other bands. Fans of Kronos, Be'lakor and Aeveron should enjoy The Bleeding Holocaust. Don't let the production put you off, Because Vörnagar have really made an exceptionally good album.
Vörnagar have been one of the biggest bands in my area's scene for a couple years, and with their first, independently produced full-length, The Bleeding Holocaust, it is easy to see why. Marco Pitruzzella (aka Lord Marco)'s drumming is one of the fastest I have ever heard; he's right up there with Tony Laureano and Derek Roddy. As well, Jay Rodriguez and Greg Larrenaga do an amazing job; their riffs are a solid blend of catchy melodies and technical flurries. And, when the guitars and drums slow their speedy assault, Matt Rosenberg adds tasteful, evocative lines (see "The Charge of the Dark God"). As far as the vocals go, Carl Pitlick's screams are awesome, but indistinguishable from the legions of melodic death vocalists. Larrenaga sometimes contrasts Pitlick's screams with a low growl, and while the dynamic created between the two is interesting, it has been done before. Also, amid all the great aspects of this album, there is one real flaw: the production. The drums are far too high in the mix, the guitar solos are a bit buried some of the time, and the bass can only be heard on softer, slower passages; but then again, Marco is the most high-profile member (see his recent tours with Vile and Vital Remains, as well as his 4th place [hands] and 2nd place [feet] finishes at the World's Fastest Drummer competition), and bass isn't really necessary in most melodic death, anyway. But regardless of this and any other flaws, the riffs are memorable, the (sparse) breakdowns juicy, the solos fluid, the melodies catchy, and the playing well above par. My personal favorites are "The Charge of the Dark God," "The Sin of Rememberence" and "Defling the Sepulcher of Christ".
Melodic Death Metal has got to be one of my favorite genres of all time. It just holds so many of my favorite qualities in music; it’s fast and of course, very heavy, it’s melodic, and it definitely takes quite a bit of talent to succeed in this genre, and overall there is a vast number of bands, way too many to mention, that impress me from it. I could name dozens right of the bat, but then my attention would go elsewhere and I would forget to introduce to you my new favorite band of the aforementioned genre called Vornagar. This band is easily one of the fastest I’ve heard, musically, in melodic Death Metal, and overall one of the more powerful ones at that. Now they’ve just released their debut album, “The Bleeding Holocaust”, which is comprised of 9 songs and clocks in at around 30 minutes.
Well, with a genre that holds so many great bands, there are also going to be a lot of crappy bands that follow its path as well. It seems that even Melodic Death Metal has been a little overplayed these days, but not to the point where you’ll have to stop listening to it for a while and find something else, like I have with a lot of Metalcore or Hardcore lately. This newer band is not at all like that. I was first introduced to this band with a recorded video of the drummer and that’s what drew me towards this CD. The music on “The Bleeding Holocaust” is outstanding and very complex, there are so many aspects that I can’t even tell you about because of how varied this CD is.
The level of difficulty displayed in Marco Pitruzzella’s drumming in thoroughly impressing and amazing; I could go as far as saying that his skills are unbelievable and in some aspects, unmatched. He incorporates a type of beat extensively throughout this CD called a ‘gravity blast’. Now I’m not sure how much skill is actually involved in this type of beat, but I gotta figure, doing a one-handed role while perfectly hitting the cymbals at the same time has got to be slightly hard, and punishing on the wrists! I’ve also only heard a very limited number of bands that play it well (Origin, Implosive Disgorgence, Tower of Rome, Amoebic Dysentary, among of few others), leading me to think, “Gosh, this has got to be an extremely difficult beat”. Marco also gives a full-on technical drumming massacre here as well; very brutal but super tight and precise.
Well enough about the drumming and on to the other musical features…
The guitars are the one thing about this album I can’t quite enjoy all the way through; please don’t get me wrong, the riffs are quite solid and technical, and melodic, but how the guitars are recorded is simply disappointing; they’re very downtuned compared to the rest of the album, plus a little muddled; they could’ve very easily been a little more polished then they are. Everything seems very well produced and highly recorded, except for the low guitars, which seems to be the only real downside here. There are some cool guitar solos, though, which fit in well; I thought if they added a few more of them into the 9 tracks, the downtuned riffs wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but sadly that’s not the case.
The wide-ranging screaming/growling vocal stylings makes for a good listen, although they’re definitely not great; they need to work on getting the vocals stronger in the future, because the drums are on top of everything here, and a lot of times, they’re at parts when you want to actually hear the vocalist, but all you get is a pummeling double kick drum. The harsher screamed-type vocals are what keep up my attention; the screamer can go decently high and definitely comes off better then the lower growling, which isn’t nearly as difficult as the harsh screams are. The overall musicianship and precision is outstanding though, and there really isn’t much to complain about. The lyrics are very good as well, the production is fairly good (mainly with the percussion), and I think this band has a good amount of creativity up their sleeves, maybe even enough to unleash another powerful full-length soon.
In summery of this CD; Vornagar’s “The Bleeding Holocaust” makes for a very brutal, fast, and even slightly catchy listen and I definitely recommend it for anyone into Melodic Death Metal or even straight-up Death Metal for that matter. I’m very sure you’ll enjoy this one; It should grow on me as one of my more appreciated independent releases that I have.