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Indonesia is a country which is known for its high amount of brutal death metal and grindcore bands but there are also a few other groups around that play something different here and there. The country also has a small emerging gothic metal and an even stronger black metal scene and the four guys from Vallendusk who are about to release their first full length release as we speak are one of the most intriguing young groups of that latter genre. These guys hail from Jakarta and are described by their label as post atmospheric black metal that is based upon atmospheric black metal by adding elements of other genres such as post metal, folk and even shoegaze to their sound. I think this description is too complicated and volatile. I would rather describe them as a nature bound melodic black metal band with a few acoustic folk passages. The band will soon release ist first official full length record called “Black Clouds Gathering” in march 2013 but their first self-titled EP of the year 2012 already gives us a good idea of the band’s musical horizons.
The three tracks on this little EP are indeed atmospheric, epic and also quite diversified from an instrumental point of view. They include some laid back moments in form of acoustic guitar transitions reminding me of the neofolk genre that work very well in contrast to the melancholic but very fast black metal passages. I would describe this music as a mixture of Agalloch, Opeth and Ulver in the calmer moments with some passages reminding me of Thormesis, Putamen Insula or 1349 in the harsher parts. What really makes this band stand out is their feeling for great melancholic melodies that never get lost and remain as Leitfäden that don’t get buried by the unchained vocals or the thundering drumming. Even though the three songs are rather upbeat, they are not too hectical and take their time to build up an atmosphere and tell a story. The haunting melodies are catchy enough to keep the songs on the listener’s mind for a while. Each song includes enough changes or breaks to keep the attention on a high level without destroying the gripping overall atmosphere that I wouldn’t describe as depressive or negative but simply as very energizing, nature bound and even slightly positive at some moments. The surprisingly solid production for this underground release is not too raw and it moves away from the stereotypes by proving that these guys aren’t bad musicians at all. The production makes this release even more enjoyable than I initially thought.
If you care for atmospheric, epic, melodic, nature bound and technically solid Black metal, you should give Vallendusk a few spins by discovering their debut EP that really grew on me and watch out for the upcoming album as well.
Indonesia is mainly known for its brutal death metal scene, but it also has a growing black metal scene. Vallendusk is the latest band to emerge from this scene, as they have released their first EP just this year.
The first thing I noticed was the European influence that's present in the acoustic guitars that show up on occasion. You have the internet to thank for that. The second thing I noticed was how energetic the music was. Generally, atmospheric black metal is a mid-paced affair, but the music Vallendusk plays is pretty fast-paced, and the riffs are, dare I say it, upbeat.
The screams have a bit of a hardcore feel to them, but they manage to fit in with the music quite nicely. The drums are pretty standard for this kind of release, with its blasts and double bass and the occasional fills, but they're still well-performed nonetheless. Like every other Indonesian metal band, the best element is the guitar. The riff have an unusually large amount of melody and draw a great deal of influence from post rock, and there's even this one riff at the beginning of “Foghymn” that sounds like it was drawn straight from the Norwegian scene.
Indonesia is not a one-trick pony by any stretch of the imagination. Vallendusk is proof that this country can produce great music in every metal genre, not just death metal.