Album Review: Wardaemonic - Acts of Repentance

Artist: Wardaemonic Album: Acts Of Repentance Genre: Black Metal Review by Alex Logan

Not since Charles Darwin on his death bed has society questioned whether evolution and repentance could be used in the same sentence. Until now. Australian based Perth-outfit Wardaemonic return to the national black metal scene five years after their last offering Obsequium, with a matured monstrosity that captivates the listener into an abhorrent dark adventure. Acts of Repentance refurbishes their decade-long sound, in which the quartet have evolved their previous underground presentation into a clean, demonic onslaught of audio storytelling. As themed albums become more synonymous with literature, as songs are deemed no different to chapters in a book (championed by bands like Mgla and Batushka by Krzysztof Drabikowski), the editorial and artistic application reaps benefits in terms of context, journey and embodiment. This growth within the band is an important step to its full potential audience, moving away from the tape trading ‘ceiling’ to spreading their wings into introducing alternative elements into their audible carnage.

The album cover art, beautifully created by Leoncio Harmr, forewarns the listener to the impending fire. The first minute of "Act I – Introspection" leads us straight there. Militant drums become the epicentre of the blasting brutality and subsequent backbone for the impending adventure. Featuring swerving interludes, the song structure provides an agile and dynamic song structure, leaving the listener uncertain and curious to what’s upcoming - a key trait of any opener on a themed album.

One notable aspect to the production is Maelstrom’s succinct musical and songwriting display, in handling vocals and drums. Within black metal circles, this set up is rare and with varying success (one success is Dutch black metal tyrants, Infinity) however the creative process has reaped rewards in terms of correlation. The release of the music video for the aforementioned song provides an intense atmosphere that resonates with the listener, as visually as it does audibly. The broadened vocal range, with death-like growls, accompanying the well placed tempo breakdown and solo codas is comforting. During "Act II – Admission", the balance between ferocity and aura holds strong - despite the soundscape at times becoming slightly murky and directionless. The unrelenting Austrian black/death legends Belphegor spring to mind through the furor, with the dark complexity of percussion fills used to complement the silence.

Beginning with an epic two and a half minute introduction of synth, strings and double kick atypical of atmospheric black metal, "Act III – Castigation" is the longest track on the album. Dictated by blistering drumming, it develops into an orchestral lead battle cry of unity. As passages start to synchronise seamlessly, slowly but surely, the listener becomes engulfed with the many elements to the organised chaos including vocal crossover, synth melodies and tremolo picked riffs.

This build-up of increasingly overlapping elements are perfectly honed on "Act IV – Sufferance", which encapsulates machine gun double kick, trance-like dreary riffs and intrinsically reflective vocals. Conjuring a mesh of darkened righteousness littered with breakdowns and ancient hymns, this is the stand out track of the release. The string work executes with searing and melodic precision as carefully placed riffs cradle the listener through epic passages of synth tempos – despite seemingly calm and despondent moments of eerie silence becoming quickly lost in explosive drumming.

"Act V – Repentance" becomes a fitting conclusion despite a slight feeling of unnecessary tempo breakdown, which at times loses the momentum in the final chapter. Battlefield-like blasts erupt from the beginning, immersing itself into a depreciated slide of tempo and intensity, representing the final phase of this abhorrent dark adventure.

Acts of Repentance shows the vast evolution and versatility the band has drilled into its ethos. Wardaemonic have pushed the boundaries of their conventional sound – ancient and streamlined - into a territory with progressive and atmospheric potential. The album showcases the dedication undertaken and musical creativity required needed to elevate the band to the next level.

Those that miss this…like Darwin - will repent. Sooner rather than later.

Acts of Repentance is out on Transcending Obscurity Records on March 20th 2020 Wardaemonic Bandcamp:

For fans of - Immortal, The Furor, Marduk, Watain, Dark Funeral, Mgla, Blut aus Nord, Sammath.

Band lineup - Maelstrom - Drums, Vocals Lord Bane - Guitars Blitz - Bass, Synth Programming Anharat - Guitars, Lead Guitars

Track listing - 1. Act I - Introspection 2. Act II - Admission  3. Act III - Castigation 4. Act IV - Sufferance 5. Act V - Repentance

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