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Varathron - The Lament of Gods
Review: Dropping for the most part the urgent tempi of Walpurgisnacht, Varathron continue their exploration of mid-tempo black metal with drums taking the compositional lead. This change does not lack merit; percussion leads each song by offsetting each beat it maintains with another, creating a kind of cat's cradle which moves like a stage backdrop through the music, highlighting each riff at the same time it defines context. Informed in jazz and progressive drumming, and with a similar gusto to that of John Bonham, the percussion track both drives each song and takes away the traditional leading role in composition held by guitar and riff change.
As a result riffs look inward, layering versions of themselves with additional rhythms added and playing style augmented with pitch harmonics, wailing leads and harmonization. While this makes it easier to get absorbed in any given song, it also robs from them the distinctiveness created when song structure follows the developing form of its riffs and the interplay between them that conveys us from inception to completion with a sense of dynamic contrast in riff shape and melody. Otherwise similar to the slower moments of the previous album, The Lament of Gods shows this band in transition from a riff-based band to a progressive band oriented toward the interplay of keyboards, drums and guitars; notably, keyboards and acoustic guitar introduce more structural changes on this EP than other instruments.
Also included is a cover of "Nuns Have No Fun" from Mercyful Fate which is adequate but, like most modern metal bands revisiting their influences, is played more rigidly than the earlier versions of this genre demand, giving it a busy feel but a musical sparseness revealed.