Velkhanos – The Wrath
1. In Absenta Dei
Label: Art Gates Records
I’ll take a wild guess and assume the quintet in question here has a lot of previous musical experience. If they don’t I will be very much impressed. Hell, I’m impressed either way, as this is certainly one of the best debut albums I’ve heard for a very long time. Nice pick for Art Gates Records and at the same time supportive of their local scene, since Velkhanos comes from Spain as well.
Lo and behold, a way to create an almost unimaginable combination of genres and weld them together to perfection. A footprint on the scene? Should be, if there’s justice in the world.
Velkhanos started on their journey just two years ago. I might again assume some of this material was prepared prior to the actual formation of a full line-up band. Again, I would be really impressed if “The Wrath” is a result of just two years of labor. What an album by a band like this should be is a regular tribute to Hypocrisy, or perhaps Dark Tranquility. Instead, we got this melodic death metal foundation and a plethora of different influences on top. As a prime, there is an unmistakable input of classical heavy metal. Already on the first track (well, the first after the introduction) you can hear the trademark King Diamond guitar work. Right from the start. Later the song progresses into a death metal thunderstorm. Interrupted by an acoustic passage. Acoustic Spanish guitar passage! Amid this seeming chaos, there comes a guitar solo reminiscent of Iron Maiden. With a bit of added speed on top, if necessary. In a couple of places on the record you might find male chanting, female clean and operatic voice and typical growling. Rhythm section also swings between the playfulness of Iron Maiden and total Swedish destruction. Even the bass guitar gets its prominent place. And shines whenever possible. Still, the lead guitar seems to be the key. While it is obvious not a single note was placed on “The Wrath” without careful consideration, the way guitars are managed is simply mind-blowing.
However, the “star” of Velkhanos is without a doubt in coping with many challenges that must certainly come when dealing with such vast array of influences. One needs to be able to fit all the ideas into a coherent whole. And the Spaniards did an amazing job. Even more so if you remember we are dealing with a debut album. “The Wrath” is incredibly fluent. Abundant with original ideas and still homogeneous. And if that is not enough, Velkhanos have more than enough quite memorable parts on the album.
Now, I might nitpick a bit and find a couple of flaws to this release. But, you know what? I’m not going to. As “The Wrath” skyrocketed straight into my “best of” list for the plagued 2020, I might as well already pronounce it the debut of the year.
Can I have more of this? Pretty please!