Released by Prophecy Productions on June 2nd, 2017, Ancestors is the latest album by Canadian band Völur. The album showcases the band’s experimentation with combining elements from folk – and at times ambient – music with elements from both atmospheric black and doom metal.
Considering the atmosphere of the overall album, and the skill demonstrated by the band at pulling the listener into it, I would prefer to label this as more of some sort of “auditory experience” than an album. Many sections remind me greatly of music by the Norse ‘shamanic folk’ group Wardruna, most notably the opening three-and-a-half minutes of the first track ‘Breaker of Silence’. The track continues on from that point for some time with somewhat of a psychedelic vibe to it. The track’s previously upbeat tone then morphs – near the eleven-minute mark – into one which is more melancholic and serious. The listener is met with an eerie strings-only section at the thirteen-minute mark before a sudden, heavier version of the song’s main melody to tie the track off beautifully.
The album’s second track, ‘Breaker of Skulls’, maintains a constant atmosphere throughout. It emphasises a melancholic and nihilistic tone, reinforced by a solo guitar melody beginning around the four-minute mark, and carried on by beautiful instrumentation for the track’s remainder, with some screamed vocals which add a sense of bereavement to the track’s already-grim atmosphere.
The third track on Ancestors, ‘Breaker of Oaths’, opens in very much a funeral dirge sort of style; it solemnly greets us with an ensemble of sweet-yet-sombre strings, and continues for a few moments, before the track is taken over by bombast-rich drums and guitars. Nearing the five-minute mark, the listener is treated to a brief fiddle solo on top of the main melody of the track. Less than a minute later, the track’s atmosphere slips into and unsettling one, which continues its development with choral vocals, followed by the sudden advent of ominous instrumentation accompanied by black metal-style vocals.
The track closes much in the style a death metal track would.
The album’s closing track, ‘Breaker of Famine’, opens in the funeral doom metal style, yet incorporates a few different styles. It delves into the black metal style between around the four-minute mark, and the five-and-a-half-minute mark. It then continues with a nicely progressive rhythm, later joined briefly by ethereal choral vocals. Following a solo, the track slides the listener gently into silence, accompanied only by a gentle melody from guitar, shortly joined by calm, positive vocals. Following this, the track begins to pick up again with a more positive, hopeful, and peaceful atmosphere, and retains it for the track’s remainder. The track – and in turn, album – closes off with a gentle fiddle melody, closing the journey absolutely georgeously.
Overall, I hope that this album will be noted for years to come as one which successfully demonstrates the beauty that may come of successful musical experimentation; not only is it truly brilliant music, but it does well in enrapturing the listener, and guiding them on an auditory journey through many atmospheres.
1. Breaker of Silence
2. Breaker of Skulls
3. Breaker of Oaths
4. Breaker of Famine
Lukas Gadke – bass and vocals
Laura C. Bates – violin and vocals
Jimmy P. Lightning – drums and percussion