Uneven Embodiment Of Evil. - 60%
Written by Perplexed_Sjel on November 20th, 2009 - www.metal-archives.com
Black metal the way black metal was meant to be is how I feel in regards to Voqkrre’s debut, ‘Palans In Pestilens’. Though not as furious as one would expect from a traditional sounding black metal band, no one can accuse Voqkrre of not being evil enough. This debut is wretched black metal in its most evil form and in the vein of all those Darkthrone-esque bands. I’m not typically a fan of “evil” sounding black metal, though this record does have a certain quality to it that helps it grow in stature as it proceeds to dwell on the hatred that it was spawned from. I much prefer when bands take a different stance on the genre than the typical methods of cold, putrid black metal that could very well have been formed during the early stages of the second wave in Scandinavia. Though this French band seem to be highly agreeable to the majority of traditional fans, I suspect newcomers will find this approach far too inaccessible as it relies heavily on repetitious melodies and a consuming evil atmosphere which bears the brunt of the message it brings to the table. Not until ‘Macabre Cordace’ do we truly to begin to feel that Voqkrre are stretching their limbs and becoming comfortable with their surroundings.
It isn’t until this precise moment that there is any noteworthy melodies, or anything to speak of worth merit. To me, this uneven debut seems to be inspired by two different Darkthrone records, the first being ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, a record a number of Darkthrone inspired bands choose to depict in their own style and ‘Under A Funeral Moon’, probably the pinnacle record within Darkthrone’s unbeatable early collection that established them as a force in the scene. Although there are elements of the Norwegian band to be found here in abundance, there are also elements of the depressive black metal scene skulking within the structures, particularly in regards to the guitar melodies placed in unforgiving fashion as the center piece to all the instrumentation that occurs. Unfortunately, although these two influences, the first from Darkthrone and the second from the depressive scene, do come together nicely, there is a resounding feeling that the instrumentation is often uneven throughout, particularly in regards to the drumming and overall percussion, which lacks punch. For example, the double bass is almost unnoticeable for large parts of the record. It only exists as a headache inducing beat, blasting solitarily alone aside from all other aspects.
The double bass is rather poor, to say the least. It doesn’t embody those penetrating factors which made the double bass blasts so accessible to hateful bands all over the world within the black metal scene. Voqkrre’s drummer doesn’t seem lacking in talent, he just seems to lack in presence and falls by the wayside along with the bass for large parts of songs, although the bass is definitely more audible than the lacklustre double bass. Unlike ‘Transilvanian Hunger’, Voqkrre opt to use a cleaner production style which perhaps doesn’t suit the evilness of the record, but it does highlight the subtle guitar melodies with more finesse. The production is flat, to be honest. It doesn’t offer the same sort of atmosphere as Darkthrone’s ‘Transilvanian Hunger’ which used the lo-fi approach to its advantage. Given the lack of punch from areas of the percussion and the fact that the instrumental areas can fall victim to the overriding vocals, the production needed to take a drastic stance in stopping this record from becoming rather stale sounding and it simply hasn’t. I certainly would not consider Voqkrre a simple clone band because they’re not and this debut does not follow the straight forward approach laid down by imitation acts.
It does offer the listener some variety as it moves from traditions to the depressive sub-genre, but it lacks a distinctive bite that would have made it stand up and be counted for. The song writing has some issues to deal with and cannot rely of evil sounding atmospherics, or repetitious drives to make it more unique because the memorable riffs and structures are just not there. There are a number of useful melodies generated from capable riffs, but the way in which the guitars shine above the rest when the vocals are not dominating proceedings reflects badly against the mediocre aspects, causing them to sound even worse in comparison. A rather typical affair from France, a nation noted for its raw black metal contingent, but there are some very capable guitar riffs to be found here and I’m certain the evil sounding atmosphere, along with the wretched vocals, will make old school fans sit up and take notice. Bland in parts, difficult to become accustomed to and lacklustre elements such as the double bass make this nothing more than mediocre.