Swedish Black Metallers Vananidr, masterminded by multi-instrumentalist Anders Eriksson, return with their fourth studio full-length in four years, Beneath The Mold. As with the predecessors, the production has been carefully balanced between maintaining that rawness and keeping an essential definition of the various instruments. Despite this regular and rapid release rate, nothing has been lost in the compositional quality of the resulting albums.
Vananidr – Beneath The Mold (Black Lion Records)
Release Date: 28 October 2022
Words: Jools Green
Sound-wise it still echoes the second wave of Scandinavian Black Metal. Atmospherically melancholic and raw, the difference this time is the line-up changes, with Fredrik Andersson taking over as the new drummer and Per Lindström as the new bassist helping to bring about a more modern and slick leaning to the sound but still maintaining that essential raw quality.
Beneath The Mold is a very cleverly constructed release throughout. First track, Dominion, is an enticing work, ebbing and building in increments, with pounding drum rhythms and hypnotic bass lines to open, adding more layers each time. Guitars, then distant vocalisation and further guitar layering appear before the main body of vocals arrives, which are raw and distant but with clarity of content. In between, an underlying melodic element weaves through.
This is followed by Awake, eerie and gloomy to open, but then the guitarwork arrives like a thunderous storm. Dark and menacing but still with a subtle haunting melody, the vocals cut through with icy precision, ebbing back in readiness for the next piece, The Watcher, which is initially solemn and reflective, building in intensity and delivering punch and vitriol, particularly as the vocals arrive. A hugely powerful, engagingly bleak piece.
The title track, Beneath The Mold, is the album monster at just over the ten-minute mark and arrives with much more force and determination than you’d expect from such a long piece. Darkly haunting and driving, the vocals sear their way through the intense wall of riffs. It’s a little more linear than the other offerings, but there is still a subtle ebb and build. At mid-point, it drops away into a hauntingly eerie, classically styled piano, which lasts for over a minute and a half before that wall of riffs returns along with very haunting leadwork, which dominates until the closing fade out. This interesting piece keeps you guessing first listen in.
Penultimate offering, Dressed In Pain, is bleak but intense to open, systematically and darkly forging its way along. A very haunting listen turns harrowing when the vocals arrive along with an elevation in pace, again with a very subtle ebb and build and with punchier elements arriving midway through for extra texture.
Closing on the final piece, the haunting driver, Sea Of Lies, engulfs you in a wall of undulating riffs, pummelling drums and searing vocals one final time.
Beneath The Mold is an engaging listen, largely due to the depth of layering in each track. There’s so much going on within each piece, all of which are very individual and stand-alone but at the same time tied together with Vananidr’s very distinct and unique style.
It is available to buy here as a digital release https://vananidr.bandcamp.com/ or here as a CD, cassette, or vinyl release https://vananidrblacklion.bandcamp.com/album/beneath-the-mold.