Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Ethereal - 67%

Larry6990, March 25th, 2020
Written based on this version: 2019, Digital, Independent

If the logo resembles a tree more than actual text, it's usually a sign you're in for some trve gr1im kvlt fr0stb1tt3n black metal. However, the grainy photo of the church ruins and the cemetery? That's pure funeral doom territory that! However, what's on offer here is some raw death/doom much in the style (or at least heavily influenced by) the likes of Paradise Lost or October Tide. Now, Croatia is certainly not the country I expect to be cranking out decent death/doom metal - come to think of it, I'm not sure exactly what sub-genre I do expect out of this particular nation - but that's exactly what Vulom deliver: decent death/doom metal. No more, no less. Walls Of Agony is the debut full-length from the Croatian quintet and shows plenty of promise. The potential is there, but not quite the refinement yet.

It's clear that the band have ambition, and there is definitely scope for an epic contained within this LP. Opening with the 3-minute ambient intro "Ethereal", which works wonderfully as a mood-setter, then crescendoing into the 10-minute title-track is a bold way to open an album of this genre. It reminds me of USA death/doomsters Soulmass and their Weakness Of Virtue album last year. Vulom just barely hit with nearly the same kind of power here - but there's a depth and fusion missing from the production quality. I understand this is an unsigned/independent release, so overall I'm actually impressed with the general sound. The title-track strikes the right chord and is a great vessel to display the raw guitar tone, cavernous drums and Kristijan Čačija's deep growls. unfortunately, the mix seems to push the vocals away from the accompaniment so they don't fuse quite as well with the music as they should - but at least they're performed with aplomb.

After the impressive title-track, a strange thing happens and, for the rest of the record, the bass seems to drop in volume considerably, leaving us with this queer emptiness that pervades the remaining tracks. If the whole album were like this, it wouldn't be an issue - but the lack of bottom end is disconcerting and underwhelming after such a strong opener. Lyrically, this is utterly drenched in misery and solipsism - appropriately and intentionally, mind you - but it takes the right kind of mindset to sit through this album. One thing Vulom are very good at is pinpointing the most suitable atmosphere and vibe for a record of this sub-genre. Walls Of Agony is nothing if not soaked with depressing moods, harrowing melodies and grief. Just the ticket! I also love the way the album ends - the eerie spirit of "The Lady In The Window" fades away to a gorgeous piece of melodic synth work which caps off the whole effort nicely.

It's a shame that they chose to follow such a lovely finale with a cover of Nine Inch Nails' inconceivably iconic "Hurt". I find NIN to be one of the dullest bands to ever exist, and death/doom is hardly the animated style to liven up such a meandering track (also, the bass seems to be even more absent here!). My personal recommendation is the hard-hitting "Memories", containing a flowing structure and a set of riffs that beg to be headbanged with. Walls Of Agony displays a new band just gaining a foothold on the scene and is definitely not to be dismissed for that purpose. There are shining moments amongst the flaws; flaws which will surely be ironed out with the blessing of experience. In the meantime, support this Croatian quintet and buy some streams or whatever it is you kids do these days with regards to music. Not bad, guys, not bad at all.