VRYKOLAKAS: And Vrykolakas Bring Chaos And Destruction
Release year: 2021
Label: Dark Blaspemies Records/Sadist Records
A vrykolakas is a fictitious creature in Greek folklore, an undead creature that feasts on human flesh; something of a cross between a zombie and a vampire. One of the numerous slavic counterparts for the word is vukodlak, and vrykolakas has also been used to signify werewolves in literature, although folklore doesn’t (apparently) attribute such characteristics to a vrykolakas.
Vrykolakas, on the other hand, is an extreme metal band from Singapore, who originally started out in 1991, went on a hiatus in 1993 and made a comeback in 1999. Since then, they’ve remained active, but haven’t exactly released a huge mass of releases: the newly released And Vrykolakas Bring Chaos And Destruction is only their third full-length album.
Originally, the band’s sound was some form of mix between black metal and death metal. However, since then, their sound has shed of virtually all black metal elements and gravitated towards pure death metal of a rather brutal variety. And that’s what’s on offer here: brutal death metal with definite old school vibes.
Originality, let’s get that out of the way instantly: you won’t find it here. Vrykolakas definitely don’t go for originality, blazing new paths or experimentation. Instead, they take the very tried-and-tested formula of riff-heavy, mid-tempo and faster death metal and run with it. If the old US classics, Vader and what have you are up your alley, you’ll be right at home here. Vrykolakas will sound instantly familiar to you.
But what about quality? Well, buddy boy, here Vrykolakas have considerably more to offer. The short of it is that this album is good. It’s not absolutely great – not a future hallmark of the genre – but it’s definitely worth your while if the aforementioned classics of US death metal and a band like Vader tickle you in a good way. There are razor-sharp riffs in driving tempos, plenty of headbanging sections, suitably gruff vocals and songs that just work. Good old, old-fashioned pure death metal: no slam, no blackened, no deathrash, this is just pure traditional death metal. Nothing more – and definitely nothing less.
It’s kind of boneheaded, actually. This kind of thing has been done time and time and time again by countless bands on countless albums. It’s not exactly like there’s a dearth of this kind of material. But still Vrykolakas add one more entry into the vast throng of albums of this ilk – and it doesn’t feel redundant. And Vrykolakas Bring Chaos And Destruction is strong enough to warrant paying attention to. Not even it’s pretty massive length of 50 minutes is a detractor – you won’t get bored listening to this album.
If there’s anything to criticize on the album, it would be the sound. Whilst clear and sharp, the guitars could be meatier and a bit louder in the mix. Other than that, if some good ole death metal is what you crave, Vrykolakas have got you covered.
In terms of Singaporean extreme metal, Vrykolakas may not quite rise up to the legendary level of fellow countrymen Abhorer and Impiety with this release, but they do conclusively prove that there’s high quality stuff being made in the country in this day and age.
Summary: Originality be damned, this is some good traditional death metal!