Wrvth - No Rising Sun - (9.5/10)
Published on September 5, 2019
The California based band Wrvth (however that may be pronounced) has been around since 2007, previously known as “The Wrath of Vesuvius” or “Wrath of Vesuvius” up until 2015 when they adopted their current name along with the release of a self titled record. Another four years have passed and the band has returned with their fourth full-length record titled “No Rising Sun”. I’ve seen them described as technical death metal, deathcore, post black metal and so on. It appears that this band’s genre isn’t exactly clear and after spinning this album a few times I can totally see why. I didn’t hear any of their previous albums and have no idea how they sounded in the past but their current form is a maelstrom of various genres and influences. Only one thing is certain, this band is really dark. Like REALLY dark.
“No Rising Sun” as its title clearly shows, is one of the darkest sounding albums I’ve heard in ages but it is also one of the most musically impressive. The level of composition as well as technical capability is through the roof. To be honest I’d say it puts together everything from funeral or atmospheric doom to melodic death, black metal and even epic soundscapes. The music constantly changes between aggressive and calm, loud and silent, fast or slow and often even combines polar opposites in incredible contrasts. I was instantly intrigued by the mixing of this album because it allows certain elements to sound clear as daylight. Drums, bass and clean guitars are incredibly well defined. But at the same time, other elements, mostly the overdriven guitar riffs and the vocals, sound harsh and dirty in a typical black metal manner. It’s certainly intended that way because it makes a lot of sense and allows them to express exactly what they’re going for. It has a very prominent atmospheric black metal vibe, which as a genre can be rather stiff, dragging and limiting to the composition but they could still incorporate very dynamic and intricate elements into it and give it a sense of versatility and fluidity. The bass and drums for one can get quite intricate with a remarkable amount of details, particularly on the clean passages but even in the aggressive ones sometimes. The strums, accents and transitioning on the drum parts aren’t only very impressive but also incredibly fitting for the music, giving a bit of oomph even when everything else is soft (see the build-up in “Calcified to Stone”, an interlude that just builds up momentum, growing towards the impact of the next song “House of Centenary”). Also the riffing style is very diverse ranging from black metal tremolo picking to death metal dynamic or complex fluctuations that I might as well label as “progressive elements”.
The album feels very well put together, flowing from beginning to end as a whole in a very cohesive way with no sense of interruption in flow. It keeps you in there for the whole run time. But also each song in part has this great sense of unity that even if there are pauses or changes in pace or atmosphere, it feels more like an evolutionary direction to the song than a strain in its harmony. Nothing feels forced or out of place. Oftentimes there are these long build-ups revolving around a main theme that just keeps adding up more and more until it sounds massive. It also goes the other way around when a colossal wall of noise will gradually decrease into a soft melody. But while this steady sense of evolution is a trait of their music that I absolutely love, I’m also really keen on the approach of just crashing down all at once from soft to aggressive or cutting out all at once from aggressive to soft and that is also something they pull off really well without ruining the flow of the song. It is so advanced and mature that so many extreme elements just feel natural. And there’s also a powerful doom metal influence with a lot of dragging (see the 9 minute “Dust and Moonlight”, especially the ending) that is very well suited, almost as a breather amongst all the other elements.
And then we get to what this album means and how it feels. According to them, it’s about the “hardships and the contingencies that being in a band brings, just as much as it’s about the pure happiness harbored from fighting in order to follow our passion”. Though I’m having a bit of trouble noticing where exactly is the happiness in this album, I can see the connection between the lyrical themes and the emotion carried out through the songs. It feels very personal and very honest and it’s such a mixture of sensations that it just rips through you. When the black metal kicks in, it’s so massive, visceral and tormentful. It screams out rage and pain and it feels so bitter, dragging you downwards. The vocals are a crucial element in why the vibe is so unreal, because they’re delivered with immense power and catharsis but placed somewhat distant and unclear in the mix so that it doesn’t really push through. The whole music has this constant duality between noise and silence or blur and clarity. The energy comes in waves, building up and calming down and then it just turns silent, with a touch of sadness and generally a grave, somber tone but it may also just be calming, beautiful and peaceful with echoing shimmery guitar delay effect. The song “Undertow” really impressed me with a use of piano, clean guitars and some ambiental female vocals (don’t know who performed those) that just gives this breather before the downpour of aggression crashes down again. I also love the use of high soaring tremolo picking melodies that give it the “epic” touch. Just listen to the first part of “Enshrined” really! Also one of my favourite moments!
Being perfectly honest, this would rarely be my first choice in music. It’s so immersive and emotional that once you get into it, you stay into it. You can’t just listen to a song and then go to something else. It makes a lot more sense to stream the full album, dive down deep in their sorrow (which on some level reminded me of Scandinavian melodic death or doom metal sorrow) and lay there for a while. And though the full stream is an exhilarating journey through dark vibrations, it’s quite draining and I don’t always get out of it feeling very good. If you’re going through a hard time, I’m sure you can find solace in this sort of music and in some ways it can be very liberating but it also really consumes you. Anyway, that’s my perception but with such complex and evolved means of expression I think anyone could react differently which only goes to show that they did a fantastic job carrying out the emotion. Not everyone will be able to enjoy this but you should at least be able to appreciate their creativity, originality and authenticity.