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Vrag > Harcom > Reviews > Edmund Sackbauer
Vrag - Harcom

Vrag - Harcom - 93%

Edmund Sackbauer, September 21st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2021, CD, Filosofem Records

After a great release with fairly new outfit Frozen Wreath Roland (also being the mastermind behind WitcheR and Filosofem Records) is back with a new album of his solo project Vrag. This one is titled “Harcom” and brings us five lengthy tracks and nearly 47 minutes of breath-taking atmospheric and melodic black metal. There is nothing new as Roland is only interested in presenting his take on the cold Scandinavian stuff of the nineties. Roland once again manages to create an atmosphere that makes you feel liberated, but at the same time, trapped in torment and despair.

Icy riffs, relentless drumming and caustic, raspy growls do battle with the atmospheric harmonies and instantly hooky melodies. There’s even room for changes of pace and some long and drawn-out ambient sections, where those melodies are accentuated by slower mid-pace tempo grooves. There’s no doubting the viciousness of the music, but occasionally, given how grandiose and elegant the music feels, you almost forget this is hateful and misanthropic music in the first place. Where some black metal bands go full on pedal to the metal, striving for extremity and speed, Vrag bring a nuanced, more melodic attack that nevertheless drips with fury and rancor.

One thing Roland does especially well is crafting epic soundscapes and paint pictures of cold and frosty territory before your inner eye. When you hear a track like “Belüt halott” you can practically see the epic landscapes opening up before you in all of their frostbitten glory. It's a delight to really get immersed in the magic and experience the breadth of what unfolds here. The beautiful dreamscapes of the melodies cascade through cold, desolate woods, and as the music ebbs and flows while reaching fascinating peaks you will get swept away and be fully immersed in it. The guitars are laden with introspective melodies that nourish the dismal atmosphere, although Vrag’s musical style is imbibed with a somber ambiance. When the gaiting drums pick up momentum, the tremolos and rhythmic hooks are inserted and bring a fiercer tone to the table.

Roland expands on the past albums with his ethereal, cold sound that I would describe as atmospheric in an abstract sense, although this wouldn’t be classified as atmospheric black metal in the way a lot of other records are these days. That moniker usually denotes bands that utilize long chunks of synths and silence that can get boring if not done correctly. There are always enough riffs and a fresh spread of icy tremolo runs, grandiose chords that cover the songs in a lavish sauce, and some clean, plucked passages that sprinkle the dish like chilled sprinkles. Every song is dense with meaning and each moment is methodically cut into a purposeful, horrendously enjoyable work of art to satisfy every fan of the genre. Coming once again with a fantastically painted picture as cover artwork “Harcom” is another proof that Roland is one of the most talented persons in the black metal scene right now.