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Varathron - Walpurgisnacht
Review: Where the first Varathron album exuded a slow ferment like the parting of mists, the second either charges ahead at a Norse pace or drops into a mid-tempo technical style that became the template for all material to follow. This new direction is more musically erudite but in its stability, loses the serpentine struggle to fit riffs into a narrative based on their shape alone which gave earlier Varathron its brooding, uncertain and mystical atmosphere.
Much of the faster material resembles Rotting Christ's Thy Mighty Contract in its tendency to create a melody which lapses into its own inertia and then emerges again, like a study of waves writ in four-note minor key sigils, while the mid-tempo material streamlines heavy metal and black metal riffs and drops them into a groove which the adroit skeltonic drumming anchors only to interrupt and catch that expected resolution with offbeats converging on cadence.
Borrowed from death metal and in heavy rotation here is the technique of layering where a phrase is repeated with different percussion frameworks, chording or single-note picking, and tempo doubling to give the sense of expanding space within a momentum and form. Although this CD does not approach the degree of stimulation of imagination that His Majesty in the Swamp launched, it expands upon much of its potential and shows this band reaching its mature style which while less obscure gains a framework in which melodic ideas can develop to fruition.