A big step forward
Swedish (Karlskrona) based satanic black metal outfit Vanmakt (Swedish for powerlessness) made a pretty solid first impression with their debut effort ‘Vredskapta Mörkersagor’ in 2007, despite the fact that the album slipped under the radar for most.
In the two years since the release, vocalist/guitarist M. Svensson and bassist V. Dahlgren involved themselves in the side project Nidrike (who recorded their debut album ‘Blodsarv’ (‘Blood Heritage’) last year), all the while putting together material for their highly anticipated sophomore effort.
Obviously somewhere along the way, both Svensson and Dahlgren figured that some drastic changes were required, with two members of the group (namely guitarist Aamoth, who was also involved in Nidrike and who recently passed away, and drummer Gráal) parting ways with the group due to musical differences.
Rather than put a hold on the band’s progress, prolific guitarist Magnus Wohlfart and Nidrike drummer Liedheim were brought in to complete the recording, which eventually brings us to the band’s second full-length effort ‘Ad Luciferi Regnum’ (‘To the Kingdom of Lucifer’).
As you would expect, ‘Ad Luciferi Regnum’ represents a big step forward for Vanmakt since the release of their debut, and it’s nowhere more evident than on the album’s opening track ‘The Second Key’. With an atmospheric build up that in some way reminds me of Dimmu Borgir, the song soon gets swept up in a full on blast that only lets up for on a couple of occasions to allow for some female vocals, distorted spoken words and haunting keyboards. Aggression and technical precision are perhaps the most notable changes heard, and both are worthy enhancements on the original Vanmakt sound of two years ago.
The three tracks that follow, namely ‘Brethren of Lucifer’, ‘Endless Myth’ and ‘Re-Incarnating Hatred’, manage to keep the same level of intensity and speed as the opener. But in doing so, the songs tend to sound a little formula like, and lose a bit of their identity when stacked against one another. The title track ‘Ad Luciferi Regnum’ shows a slight change of direction with some slower passages thrown in amongst the chaotic speed, while the only thing that makes ‘Id XIII Inferni’ stand out is the guest appearance from Henrik ‘Gjallar’ Kindvall (Nidrike vocalist).
It would appear that Vanmakt saved the best material for the tail end of the album, with the progressive ‘The Ascension’ (which also marks a return of female vocals), the slower paced ‘ Beneath the Moor’ and ‘Written in Blood’ all varied sounding and experimental in places, which makes a change from driving speed and extremity of the former tracks.
Despite some of the tracks sounding a little the same, and running a bit on the long side of things, Vanmakt have managed to craft a fine modern black metal album in ‘Ad Luciferi Regnum’, and one that’s sure to earn the band some well deserved attention.
(Pulverised Records/AmpHead Music Distribution)