Insane Vesper - Layil - (8/10)
Published on September 10, 2016
Label:Art of Propaganda
A lot can be interpreted from cover art, and in this case, it seems to be the Hebrew metaphysical connection that is all the rage these days, which may or may not explain the questionably mismatched gender affixations and modern naming conventions, or the somewhat mercurial definition of “night,” “gloom,” or something more figurative. Whatever us Westerners want to do with these old Hebrew concepts, it has undeniably found a home in modern day black metal and regardless of usage and political correctness it sure is mysterious as shit. Despite our heavy-handed appropriation—or, let us be liberal: inspiration—it provides deeply symbolic yet ambiguous imagery with which to accompany equally inaccessible music, and therefore, a point of reference.
Insane Vesper understands this side of human nature fairly well, apparently, or at the very least, they want to jump on the bandwagon. If their debut was any indication, it’s the latter thought that would provide substance, but if it’s their sophomore release, Layil, then we can safely go with the former. You see, a lot can happen in five years, and although the album isn’t a trailblazer (like the lackluster debut) it brings to the party tons of quality ideas that speak copiously of the band’s mature grasp of songwriting and riff progressions, and a firm understanding of black metal’s current trajectory.
It is traditionally rooted, very much stuck in the heyday of the Norwegian second wave, but it’s the Polish and at times Greek flourishes that make this album shine, and the occasional showing of the band’s French heritage does much to flavor the concoction very favorably as well (“Sink the Ark of Knowledge”). It is the result of an outsider looking in, combining the menacing and masculine rhythmic sensibility of Mgła (“Blood of the Moon”) with the distinct vulnerability of pretty much any Greek band that tends to dabble in ritual atmospherics (“Of Serpent’s Embrace” and “Seed of Inanna”). Sustaining these flashes of brilliance, and therefore connecting them all together, would be the superb production which sounds fragile yet full, making the whole piece seem like it could crumble apart at any moment; and the guttural rasp of Vanitas—like so many other unorthodox bands these days—also provides a grimy, chant-like overtone with just enough reverb to make it sound “evil.”
Insane Vesper is indeed with the times and their understanding of song structuring has evolved very nicely, too, to complement the new addition of all these elements. It’s great to see the band heading in this direction yet I cannot expect them to stay here for long as the thrashier elements and considerably rawer presentation could be suggestive of something else in the future, and if that’s the case, then so be it. Theirs seems to be a mercurial, non-formulaic—and dare I say, unfinished—approach anyway, slightly off the beaten path regarding its mix of influences, yet as stated before, loyal to the throne.