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Few extreme metal composers are able to merge several musical styles harmoniously, in balance with each other, while remaining accessible and melodic. This feat has been achieved, however, by Lars Stavdal with his solo project Wallachia’s third album. Skeptical at first, I was quickly seduced by the remarkable qualities of Shunya, which fits brilliantly in Norwegian melodic brand of Black Metal.
It is indeed difficult to resist an aesthetic universe which is such highly reminiscent of Windir’s, with this refined mixture of aggressive metal, synthesizers and more traditional string instruments. However, the band’s only permanent member manages to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism, on which so many other musicians broke themselves. His music has indeed its own identity, at the porous borders of black metal, melodeath and pagan metal. Epic and catchy songs are emerging from this maelstrom, and they never sink into melodic debauchery or « Viking » bands’ nullity.
In fact, the group is able to go from great ferocity to pure keyboard harmonic passages on the same song, notably on the brilliant opening piece Dual Nothingness, thereby establishing the stylistic path through which the composer walk. Each track on the album is well designed with its own characteristics, but through a firmly held general pattern. However, I wish to emphasize the beautiful conclusive song called Emotional Ground Zero, with a string section that adds tremendous depth and deploys a great dreamy and melancholic atmosphere.
Hardliner Black Metal fans will probably despise this album, far too melodic for them. However, those whose tastes are more varied and know how to appreciate great song writing will have a lot of fun discovering Shunya, a record much more interesting than anything the power / melodeath not-so-pagan scene has released in years.
Originally written for Métal Obscur.