Vrag - Exile - (7.5/10)
Published on February 22, 2017
The third full length from Australian black metal horde Vrag, Exile was released in the first part of 2017 through Schattenkult Produktionen. Though it’s just now seeing the light of day, the album was recorded sometime between 2009 and 2010, meaning the tracks have accumulated dust for the better part of the last decade. Regardless, Exile offers a fine addition the band’s repertoire of aphotic black metal.
To those familiar with the band’s 2015 release, Species of One, this newest offering may sound a tad surprising. While Vrag still summons a dark and blackened energy here, Exile seems far more rooted in angsty second wave styling than the cold and collected, primal first wave approach of yore. The album shows Vrag as a young and pissed off entity, loaded with feisty trem riffing and frenetic blasts, while Vrag Moj’s screams sound tortured and painful. Even that long ago, the band crafted excellent trem-driven passages that seem riddled in darkness.
The majority of Exile flies by in what seems like moments; a blistering frenzy of fast paced black metal sweeping through the speakers. That being said, a few surprises jump out, like the jarring riffing and clapping percussion on the title track. “Youth Against Christ” is possibly the band’s weakest track to date, coming across as pitifully try-hard, with it’s juvenile scream-along section; almost sounding like Freddy Madball or Raybeez decided to take a stab at black metal.
Despite a small bump in the road, Exile is a largely enjoyable album. It’s cool to see Vrag releasing some dusty, shelf-ridden material, but it’d be nice to see the band release some more newly recorded material. Species of One was certainly a black metal highlight of 2015, so it’s safe to assume that anything else the band releases will continue with the high quality they’re known for. Exile is good for what it is; a look into Vrag’s angsty, second wave-fueled past, not to mention a nice holdover while waiting for new material.