In all its different incarnations, one thing has remained constant in American extreme metal band Valdur‘s outputs. Be it the coldness and harshness of the black metal Raven Gods Amongst Us to the brutal blackened death battery of At War With and Pathetic Scum, the intensity has always remained, though presented in different forms. The band this year releases their fifth full length, Divine Cessation, leaving one to wonder what form the beast would take this time round.
Unlike its predecessors At War With and Pathetic Scum where the band veered towards a direction that was reminiscent of filthy, bestial black/death metal, Divine Cessation sees Valdur once more inching back towards black metal territory. Don’t get me wrong; for all you Teitanblood, Bestial Raids or Proclamation freaks, the brutality and that suffocating atmosphere is still present, though this manifests in quite a different style this time round. The riffs here are reminiscent of their aforementioned black/death metal peers, often droning on and with a massive tone to bury listeners beneath a wall of sound, with the band often alternating between breakneck speed and an almost doom pace. The vocals of JF, along with the way it is mixed, even brings to mind the works of bands like Archgoat, especially with the repetitive riffs, which, depending on your preferences could either be a good or bad thing.
The atmospherics are key on Divine Cessation, and the huge soundstage that the band presents is obvious right from the start. As an example, on the title track there is a moment where the toms sound so distant that I almost thought that it was coming from the outside, only to realise that it was an acoustic trick by the band. Lead guitars are also mixed to sound super distant, for an added haunting effect. This huge soundstage makes for an immersive listening experience, and one constantly feels as though one were engulfed by the relentless riffs. The cavernous sounds produced by the band easily reminds one of the works of Pseudogod, Grave Miasma and the likes. The inclusion of orchestral elements also add to the atmosphere, adding a rather dramatic feel to the album.
The band proudly claims Divine Cessation to be devoid of triggers, click tracks, and Pro Tools, and that is obvious from the get go through the rawness in the production. The record sounds extremely organic, and almost feels like a live record, capturing the intensity and raw hatred in its full glory.
While Divine Cessation once again marks a different direction in the music of Valdur, this is by no means a revolution of their style; rather, Divine Cessation is natural progression from what the band put out with Pathetic Scum, and possibly an indication of what’s next for the band. That said, my personal favourite from the band would still be either Raven God Amongst Us or At War With, with the more straightforward orientation and direction of those records.