Vhöl Vhöl

Since the demise of San Francisco black metal outfit Ludicra in 2011, drummer Aesop Dekker (Agalloch) and guitarist John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune) have sought to build a new project together. With the addition of bassist Sigrid Sheie (Amber Asylum, Hammers of Misfortune) and vocalist Mike Scheidt (YOB), the realization of that desire to collaborate again is Vhöl. A super-group of avant-garde heavy hitters, Vhöl have created a balance between intelligence and volatility on their self-titled debut, opting for a sophisticated and complex interpretation of filthy black metal with some abrasive crust punk. Vhöl comes across as an act of musical and intellectual catharsis, spitting sludge and poison. Scheidt's vocals are rasping, doomy bellows stoking the fire. Cobbett's guitar work, replete with lightning tremolos, is as supple as ever, but filled with an abandon, a sense of release he doesn't usually allow himself on tighter, more restrained projects. Sheie's bass lines have an eerie, winding strength, weaving through the songs like dextrous, muscular tentacles, while Dekker is at his most punk rock and wild in his drumming; he's always in control, but on the edge of explosiveness. It's not often that songwriting and instrumentation of this quality are applied to the structure of blackened punk, and the results are stellar. (Profound Lore)