Wallachia - Monumental Heresy - (9/10)
Published on April 27, 2018
A heretical monument to the majestic north.
Wallachia was initially formed back in 1992 by Lars Stavdal, who released a demo and full length in the mid to late ’90s, operating as a solo project (with what were more or less guest drummers). He shelved the project shortly after the full length released, letting the Wallachia name lie dormant until 2005. Eventually, he began recruiting other members into the fold and unleashed Ceremony of Ascension in 2009 followed by the fantastic Shunya in 2012. 2018 sees the release of the project’s fourth full length, Monumental Heresy, released through Debemur Morti Productions.
While Stavdal has remained the main instrumentalist and songwriter throughout the years (performing guitars/bass/vocals), he has recruited a fine composite of members to handle violin, cello, drums, and orchestrations. Monumental Heresy boasts an extremely full and lush sound, with the use of actual orchestral instruments giving a very authentic feel. Sure, keyboards are still used throughout, like during the classically inspired ending to “Untruthology Abolished”, which closes out the album, but the use of actual those orchestral elements boosts the entire production to a higher level than many contemporaries.
Wallachia’s style could be lumped together with the symphonic black metal movement, as the orchestrations are just important to the band’s sound as the black metal is. Those who have listened to anything in the band’s back catalog should already know that. Regardless, tremolo driven black metal, full of sweeping tremolo riffing and double bass burst is the main focus; the lush orchestrations offer a nice backdrop, only really stealing the spotlight during the acoustic offshoots or brief soirees into slower moving passages. That being said, the strings more often than not continue during these heavier moments, it’s just that they aren’t the main focus. Two main vocal styles are employed, one being a harsh, raspy black metal shriek, the other being a hook-laden choral style that is often employed during a chorus or break, though those female vocals during “The Parallel Fate of Dreams” or really nicely employed.
Much like the project’s last release, Shunya, Monumental Heresy combines a lot of outside influences into a grandiose and enveloping listening experience. Certain tracks dabble in a driving, Pagan black, folk-ish metal riffing style, as heard toward the beginning of “So We Walk Alone” and the main riffing pattern of “The Prophets of Our Time” while others show a flash of fist swinging, galloping thrash riffing like during “Silenced No Longer”. These elements are woven seamlessly into the symphonic black metal base with fantastic results. Sure, one could say that Wallachia isn’t reinventing the wheel, as there really isn’t anything new brought to the fold, but the songwriting here is top tier stuff. One would be hard pressed to find an album as beautifully composed that remains heavy and true to the roots of Scandinavian black metal (without delving into the whole Cascadian or Summoning styled keyboard plinkers of the world). In the unlikely event that Wallachia’s back catalog hasn’t done so already, Monumental Heresy should firmly cement the project as one of the genre’s best and brightest stars.