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Album Reviews : Vahrzaw – Defiant

By on September 24, 2009

Vahrzaw-defiantIn the interests of transparency I will state up front that I have been friends with the lads in Vahrzaw for many years now. Whilst that may result in a degree of bias on my part when it comes to reviewing their latest release “Defiant” it also gives me a unique perspective on how far they have come since the early band practices, demo recordings and live performances at Battle of the Bands competitions in front of bewildered locals.

When you consider that their first demo “Midgard” was released in 1994 it has taken quite some time for Vahrzaw to release their first full length, and there was the period the band were on hiatus in there as well, but they have certainly been building towards it. Their two previous releases, “Futile” in 2006 and “Acquiesce” in 2007, saw their sound and identity develop and revealed a new found maturity.

The underlying concept of “Defiant” is damning religion in all forms and, to their credit, Vahrzaw do so in an intelligent manner with well written lyrics that are poetic and steeped in metaphor yet not so obscure that they won’t be readily comprehended. Even opener “…And Sodomy Is The Weapon”, which might seem blatant on the surface, tackles the subject matter on a higher level than initial impressions might imply.

“The Triumph Of The Will” takes a more empowering view of overcoming the restrictions of religion and finding the strength of the individual while “The Herdsman” comments on the futility of suicide bombings in the name of Allah and the cowardice of those behind them. Indeed, each of the songs are a loose concept from an Athiest perspective and “Defiant” espouses free thought and decries oppression by a “god” in whatever form.

In between the well chosen samples that start and finish the album, there are a lot of ideas packed into the music which represent the varying influences from all three members. There is rampant speed, which has always been a staple of their sound, intermittent doom-like dirges and moments of complexity balanced with the requisite aggression that one would expect.

If there is a flaw to the album, and the band themselves have acknowledged as much, it would be that the snare drum is buried in the mix at times, making it hard to hear, but otherwise the thick, heavy production is well balanced and it doesn’t detract too much from the overall effect. Besides, I believe you need to cut some slack for minor imperfections when a band has done everything themselves on the limited budget available.

Once again Vahrzaw have employed the services of Sean Fitzgerald of Protestzine who has provided suitably dark artwork that captures the essence of the album and ties into the lyrical concepts perfectly. It has almost become another key element of their identity that provides another consistent thread across their last few releases.

Vahrzaw have been doing this for a long time, and for all the right reasons, so the achievement of finally putting together a full length album is worth celebrating. The fact that they have managed to put together such a complete package reflects their hard work up to this point and, friendship aside, “Defiant” is a well written and performed album of high quality that is worth a listen for those who like their metal on the darker side. 9/10

Artist: Vahrzaw
Album: Defiant
Year: 2009
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Label: Hecatomb Records
Origin: Melbourne, Australia
www.myspace.com/vahrzaw

Track Listing:
1. …And The Weapon Is Sodomy
2. Leperdition
3. Detonation Protocol
4. The Triumph Of The Will
5. The Herdsman
6. Revelations
7. Slaves To Superstition
8. The Gospel Of Judas
9. An Act Of Contrition

Reviewed by Peter Schulz

In the interests of transparency I will state up front that I have been friends with the lads in Vahrzaw for many years now. Whilst that may result in a degree of bias on my part when it comes to reviewing their latest release “Defiant” it also gives me a unique perspective on how far they have come since the early band practices, demo recordings and live performances at Battle of the Bands competitions in front of bewildered locals.

When you consider that their first demo “Midgard” was released in 1994 it has taken quite some time for Vahrzaw to release their first full length, and there was the period the band were on hiatus in there as well, but they have certainly been building towards it. Their two previous releases, “Futile” in 2006 and “Acquiesce” in 2007, saw their sound and identity develop and revealed a new found maturity.

The underlying concept of “Defiant” is damning religion in all forms and, to their credit, Vahrzaw do so in an intelligent manner with well written lyrics that are poetic and steeped in metaphor yet not so obscure that they won’t be readily comprehended. Even opener  “…And Sodomy Is The Weapon”, which might seem blatant on the surface, tackles the subject matter on a higher level than initial impressions might imply.

“The Triumph Of The Will” takes a more empowering view of overcoming the restrictions of religion and finding the strength of the individual while “The Herdsman” comments on the futility of suicide bombings in the name of Allah and the cowardice of those behind them. Indeed, each of the songs are a loose concept from an Athiest perspective and “Defiant” espouses free thought and decries oppression by a “god” in whatever form.

In between the well chosen samples that start and finish the album, there are a lot of ideas packed into the music which represent the varying influences from all three members. There is rampant speed, which has always been a staple of their sound, intermittent doom-like dirges and moments of complexity balanced with the requisite aggression that one would expect.

If there is a flaw to the album, and the band themselves have acknowledged as much, it would be that the snare drum is buried in the mix at times, making it hard to hear, but otherwise the thick, heavy production is well balanced and it doesn’t detract too much from the overall effect. Besides, I believe you need to cut some slack for minor imperfections when a band has done everything themselves on the limited budget available.

Once again Vahrzaw have employed the services of Sean Fitzgerald of Protestzine who has provided suitably dark artwork that captures the essence of the album and ties into the lyrical concepts perfectly. It has almost become another key element of their identity that provides another consistent thread across their last few releases.

Vahrzaw have been doing this for a long time, and for all the right reasons, so the achievement of finally putting together a full length album is worth celebrating. The fact that they have managed to put together such a complete package reflects their hard work up to this point and, friendship aside, “Defiant” is a well written and performed album of high quality that is worth a listen for those who like their metal on the darker side.

9/10

Artist: Vahrzaw

Title: Defiant

Year: 2009

Genre: Black/Death Metal

Label: Hecatomb

Origin: Australia

www.myspace.com/vahrzaw

Track Listing:

  1. …And The Weapon Is Sodomy
  2. Leperdition
  3. Detonation Protocol
  4. The Triumph Of The Will
  5. The Herdsman
  6. Revelations
  7. Slaves To Superstition
  8. The Gospel Of Judas
  9. An Act Of Contrition

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.