VED BUENS ENDE from Norway have only released one full-length album besides some demos and that is this album called "Written In Waters". It is already 10 years old as we speak and still manages to sound ahead of its time. I guess that's why it's Avantgarde, heh. VED BUENS ENDE was more of a project and contained members mainly from ARCTURUS and ULVER, not the smallest names if you ask me. ARCTURUS would be the only reference one could make musically speaking, as both bands present a progressive and avantgardistic form of Black Metal. However, I must stress that VED BUENS ENDE is like no other and is certainly not for everybody. If anything; "Written In Waters" is an album that must grow to the listener. Once being able to completely digest the album the listener is treated to a unique musical experience, with a brilliant atmosphere, that few bands have reached.
Mysterious would be the word to describe the music perfectly. Scary, doomy and just plain weird also qualify. There is more then one style being used here; but as is the case with many brilliant musicians, they melt together as one big whole, unrivalled in its aesthetics. The most normal sounding instrument on "Written In Waters" is the guitar, which still doesn't sound normal. The thing that takes the most getting used to are the drums. Even in the slow and mid paced parts; the drummer seems to be behind a huge drumkit, hitting cymbals and toms all over the place, in a seemingly random order. After a while I discovered the brilliance of this, because even though there doesn't seems to be a normal rhythm to them, they are never out of place and greatly enhance the mysterious atmosphere. Bassist Skoll from ARCTURUS has an outstanding performance; the bass lines are very important to keep the song together and for the most part they determine the general rhythm and mood of the song, with the innovative drums and special chord progressions doing the rest.
The unmentioned thing so far are the vocals, that are as special as the rest. Most songs have haunting clean vocals, perfect for the atmosphere, taking you away to weird landscapes and different worlds. Maybe when listening to this you imagine yourself being the strange skeleton on the cover, in a place that looks surreal and desolated. Anyway, back to the vocals; other songs like "Den Saakaldte" and "Carrier Of Wounds" have a Black Metal voice, sometimes pretty typical, sometimes agonising. The former song also displays the more brutal side of the band; changing into a massive Black Metal assault after a while, with extraordinary drumming, although it sounds a bit more straightforward in the faster parts. I feel I also must mention how the riffs sound outside of the faster Black Metal parts. This band is very far from having the "wall of sound" and oftentimes the riffs sound more upfront for a few chords, creating a great atmosphere, dark as hell. Sometimes the sound of them reminds me a bit of MAYHEM's riffs on "De Mysteriis". The Production is a major factor in this, because technically spoken they are of course different. "Autumn Leaves" has a little gothic touch to it, mainly because of the female singer, no Soprano or anything by the way. She is supported by normal vocalist "Aggressor" who offers some eerie spoken parts. Furthermore, the guitar tones are pretty delicate on this song. "Remembrance Of Things Past" goes back to more hateful Black Metal mixed with the standard style of the album.
The last few minutes of the album are really special as well, the only thing you hear is a dissonant harmonic, with strange disharmonic piano and keyboard sounds, in the distance you can still hear some vocals, altogether creating a painful and emotional end to the masterpiece. But if I may go back to one of the first songs: I have to mention "You, That May Wither", an outstanding song with a riff that brings tears to my eyes, coupled with the massive unpredictable drums. This has to be my favourite of the album!
A great listening experience, but not for everybody. Fans of ARCTURUS should check it out and everybody who wants an original piece of music with an eerie, doomy atmosphere. But I definitely recommend a listen before purchasing it! (Online March 8, 2005)