Published Oct 21, 2015Individually and within their other projects (the members of Vhöl hail impressively from YOB, Hammers of Misfortune and Agalloch), every member of this super-group (Mike Scheidt, John Cobbett, Aesop Dekker and Sigrid Sheie) have a reputation for making music that is as cerebral as it is sublime.
When they first combined their powers for their self-titled debut as Vhöl, the relative simplicity and violence of the aesthetic was a significant but not unwelcome surprise. Instead of the dizzying complexity of progressive or the shimmering elegance of Cascadian black metal, their first effort was blackened d-beat and bloody hardcore, played to the hilt. While the shock has worn off for their follow-up, Deeper Than Sky makes up for the lack of surprise by being even better executed. The opening track "The Desolate Damned" features riffs that cascade like a rockslide, and "3am" is straight-up harrowing.
As the album progresses, things get more and more weird — not complicated, necessarily, but deliciously bent, like the broken and haunted punk keys of "Piano" and otherworldly harmonies of "Lightless Sun." The latter lands somewhere between gospel and unhinged ululation, veering back and forth over the line of Lovecraftian madness. These four veterans take all of their combined might and bring it all viciously to bear on sub-genres defined by their distinctiveness and relative simplicity, pushing them all as far as they can go. Possibly the greatest triumph of the record is the thrash track "Red Chaos," which is simply, utterly perfect.
Vhöl are a scary kind of band: no matter your genre of choice, they can probably be your band better than you. (Profound Lore)