VRAG - Species of One (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2015)
God damn, I don’t know why I thought that this band is from Romania or Hungary, while it actually hails from Australia! My mistake! And another one I made was when thinking about Vrag as some lousy newcomer, who won’t be interesting or worthy of anyone’s attention. Ha, not only they’re not some greenhorns (formed in 1999!), but also the last thing you can say about their music is that it’s useless crap. No! “Species of One” turned out to be fantastic, worthy black metal album that I enjoyed a lot and will surely be coming back to as often as I only could.
Yes, it’s a nice surprise and great quality harsh black metal album. What I like about it is that you cannot put a single name of another band for comparison. Obviously there’s a strong influence from the mighty Darkthrone and such records as “Ravishing Grimness” up to “Sardonic Wrath” era. Later you can pick some (Swedish) Pest, Urgehal or even Carpathian Forest for some more comparisons, but Vrag had quite individual, personal sound, what makes “Species of One” even more worthy. And I just love their take on harsh black metal. It sounds aggressive and vicious. It has dark and cold, eerie atmosphere. But some of these riffs sound almost catchy and damn infectious, and the vocals are fantastic. I guess the reason why I enjoy the whole music so much is that these vocals along many of the riffs sound a lot like Dodheimsgard’s “Kronet til Konge”, which since many, many years stays as one of my old time favourite black metal albums. And I think that this is the album that I can compare “Species of One” the most to. Listen to such “Ahasver” or “Vagrant in the Astral Plane” and you will know what I mean.
I guess I didn’t also expect Vrag music to sound so damn memorable, so easily listenable, for this kind of music. Maybe it’s due to the good production value? Personally I don’t see this catchiness as something negative, because Vrag never steps away from the canons of traditional black metal. They don’t wanna flirt with keyboards or harmonious / avantgarde stuff and keep the genre clean. Even if there’s one fragment, when they used female vocals, it doesn’t break the malicious, spiteful feeling of the aura of their black metal. Hmm, speaking about such an unknown band in just superlatives is always a cool thing, so I hope that some of you will end up buying this CD and discover some of the best Australian black metal (for me personally, it sounds better than rather boring Drowning the Light). Hails!
Standout tracks: “Ahasver”, “Vagrant in the Astral Plane”, “Species of One”, “Inverse Horizon”
Final rate: 80/100