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Distinctly Swedish, Distinctly Wulkanaz - 85%

that magnificent deer, April 27th, 2017

Wulkanaz defined their space within the underground of black metal fairly quickly, starting with their first "album" on tape in the form of 'Kwetwan Jah Dreuzaz' and further refining it with what many see as their proper debut, 'Paurpura Fraeovibokos'. It's not that Wulkanaz have allowed only one or two releases to establish their sound, he has been restlessly productive over the last 7 or so years, racking up an extensive discography that doesn't leave out a single year, in terms of release dates.

This style in many ways seems quite orthodox, in comparison to all the black metal that comes before it, with its raw and treble-focused production, its thematic reliance on Germanic / European heathenism, and its stark and ancient feeling black and white imagery that accompanies each release. Wulkanaz are often pegged as a 'strange' entity or 'eccentric' but really he's working within the confines of black metal culture to create his own very unique identity.

Within those confines Wulkanaz has been able to create an immediately identifiable concoction of raw Scandinavian black metal with extremely tastefully incorporated folk 'inclinations'. I'll say 'inclinations' here to emphasize the fact that it's a feeling within the music and not something that is overbearing and overstated. Other similar bands that have that 'feeling' of paganism imbuing their music without blatant viking singing or similar tropes are: Thy Serpent, early Kampfar, or mid-era Lugubrum to name a few.

This is 'folk' music in that it feels familiar and ancient simultaneously and it illuminates the fact that these musical, human melodies, despite their raw and electrified presentation, have been mixed up and rearranged throughout most genres of European derived music since the advent of stringed instruments.

Comparatively, 'Paralys' is an especially interesting album in the Wulkanaz discography because it feels like a progression and a step forward without compromising the identity of the band. On previous albums, like 'Paurpura' it's not that the drums were poorly played (drums were recorded by sole member, Kumulonimbus, on "Paurpura" and all previous material) but now it’s obvious what faster and more competent drumming does to a Wulkanaz song as 'Paralys features the addition of Craft's drummer Daniel Halen.

The drumming seems to fuel all of the differences between 'Paralys' and previous material. The tempo to most songs is markedly faster, and even makes the music sound more 'Swedish' as you are getting into the speed territory of Dark Funeral, Setherial, Thornium, etc. With the drums often times propelling the music into loftier territory, this in turn simplifies his riffs and makes them more distilled and less busy than within previous Wulkanaz songs.

The precision and tightness of the drumming also gives the album a more professional, produced sound, but if you listen carefully it's still the same old, thin and creaky Wulkanaz production with extremely scratchy guitars and over-layed acoustic instruments being utilized to emphasize a more organic feeling in the production.

Still Wulkanaz has a wonderful way of shifting gears between mid-tempo folkish black metal jigs and all-out weightless soaring. Some of the passages within these songs might not even feel 'black metal' on their own, but rather like a reverb-heavy grunge intro played with black metal production, however, within the context of each song the surrounding black metal parts reveal their appropriateness to the style.

For the most part though, 'Paralys' highlights the side of Wulkanaz that is steely and intense Swedish black metal, and of his entire discography this is the album that feels the most traditionally 'Swedish'. You still have plenty of the bouncy, signature Wulkanaz riffs, but If you can say that Swedish Black Metal has been defined by such masters as Arckanum, Sorhin, Dark Funeral, Thornium, Setherial, et. al you can hear similarities that place 'Paralys' into this cultural territory.

‘Paralys’ might mostly be a step forward in terms of professionalism for Wulkanaz , but he does so while retaining all of the band’s valuable idiosyncrasy.