Artist: Dvne

Album Title: Etemen Ænka

Label: Metal Blade Records

Date of Release: 19 March 2021

Having been recommended this record via several sources on social media, I had a listen and took to my own social media accounts to profess that I wasn’t really feeling what I heard that much. To my ears on an opening listen, much of the music was a little bit underwhelming and not my ‘thing’ at all. Ok, so there were some nice melodies that caught me immediately and some moments of calm serenity to be heard. But the rest of the time, it felt like Scottish quintet Dvne were just making a bit of a post-metal-influenced racket.

Fast forward a week or two and, having given ‘Etemen Ænka’ more time and attention, including on headphones during a quite spectacular walk with the Dog of Much Metal in a heavy April snow shower, I can now say that my initial take on Dvne was misplaced. I honestly can’t see it quite landing a spot in my end-of-year ‘best of’ list, but it won’t be far off, especially if it continues to grow in the way that it has already over the past fortnight. I do try, wherever possible, to publish reviews prior to their release but occasionally, I’m not ready and the music deserves that extra time and for my thoughts to be fully coherent. As such, I’m bringing this review a couple of weeks or so after it saw the light of day via Metal Blade.

I have to say that even now, ‘Etemen Ænka’ is a touch too long. At well over an hour, it’s a hefty body of work, especially when you consider the kind of music you’re listening to. However, it is also fair to say that this sophomore release does its very best to take the listener on that most cliched of things: a journey. It’s a fitting thing to say here though, because the contrasts within the music are so pronounced, and the influences are so varied, that Dvne really do take you on a journey. And, being Scottish, it is fitting that the journey takes us on rugged terrain up to high peaks and low troughs along the way. This definitely isn’t an amble across The Netherlands or my flat home county in East Anglia, that’s for sure. We get post-metal, prog, a smattering of doom, and moments verging on ambient territory. And that’s just keeping things as simple as I can.

To illustrate my point, you need to look no further than the opening track, ‘Enûma Eliš’. I’ve lost count of the times that I checked whether I have pressed play properly because the song starts off so quietly and slowly. But after around 38 seconds, the contrast could scarcely be more pronounced as a flood of strong riffs and commanding rhythms kick in, creating a barrage of post-metal power. Add to this a mix of clean vocals alongside surprisingly abrasive gruff growls and the experience is rather intense. But all the while, the music doesn’t feel impenetrable, and it comes full circle to close in a quiet, serene fashion.

‘Towers’ is next and it wastes no time in taking charge. A dense almost claustrophobic affair from the start, there’s also an understated complexity at play here. The song smoothly and effortlessly ebbs and flows, shifting from one idea to another succinctly. The drumming is great, full of fills and exuberance, whilst the bass really comes to the fore too. And then, at the five-minute mark, out comes the first show-stopping melody as far as I’m concerned. The track continues to drive forward impressively, but cloaked in a glorious melody that then releases into an epic crescendo , complete with singing lead guitar solo. But the song isn’t done, as from there, it deconstructs gently, to end in a quiet, subtle manner.

Assisting with the ‘journey’ are a couple of well-placed interlude pieces, ‘Weighing Of The Heart’ and ‘Adræden’. Both are quieter, more atmospheric compositions that allow the keys to come right to the fore, to create some interesting, occasionally disturbing, and dark electronic-driven soundscapes, especially within the former of the two. And let’s not forget the penultimate track, ‘Asphodel’ which is predominantly a folk-imbued female vocal and guitar composition, adding yet another arrow to the band’s collective songwriting quiver.

With the benefit of time, I have to say ‘oh my goodness’ to the opening of the near ten-minute affair that’s ‘Omega Severer’. Another show-stopping melody complete with really lovely clean male vocals is interspersed by heavy, jagged riffing, eventually swallowed whole by the more aggressive sounds. And yet there’s room for plenty more gentler passages, complete with more delicate female vocals that descend into near-tortured wailing to introduce a return to more metallic climes. The dynamics of this track are incredibly impressive, particularly given how expertly they coalesce despite being so disparate.

It’s hard to ignore the elegance of ‘Mleccha’, which floats on a beautiful cloud one moment, before delivering some of the album’s heaviest riffs and lung-puncturing rhythms the next. Again, the variety within the vocals adds another clever facet to the music, as do the extremely subtle keys that add texture and increased richness to proceedings. And I love the killer lead guitar line that features within the album closer, ‘Satuya’, a repeated line that only grows in strength with each passing listen.

If I’m being completely honest, had it not been for the amazing artwork that adorns the cover, I may never have given ‘Etemen Ænka’ the time and attention that I have. Something that looks this good must contain music as equally beautiful, right? And pretty much, this statement has turned out to be true. Give Dvne’s music the time and attention that it deserves and what emerges is a quality collection of ambitious compositions that come together with surprising smoothness and eloquence. I shall, as a result, no longer remain a stranger to Dvne; instead, I shall keep listening to ‘Etemen Ænka’, keep making discoveries within it, and thoroughly enjoy the experience.

The Score of Much Metal: 90%

Dessiderium – Aria

Cynic – Ascension Codes

TDW – Fountains

Hypocrisy – Worship

W.E.B. – Colosseum

Navian – Cosmos

NorthTale – Eternal Flame

Obscura – A Valediction

Nightland – The Great Nothing

MØL – Diorama

Be’lakor – Coherence

Hollow – Tower

Doedsvangr – Serpents Ov Old

Athemon – Athemon

Eclipse – Wired

Swallow The Sun – Moonflowers

Dream Theater – A View From The Top Of The World

Nestor – Kids In A Ghost Town

Beast In Black – Dark Connection

Thulcandra – A Dying Wish

Omnium Gatherum – Origin

Insomnium – Argent Moon EP

Kryptan – Kryptan EP

Archspire – Bleed The Future

Awake By Design – Unfaded EP

Cradle Of Filth – Existence Is Futile

Seven Spires – Gods Of Debauchery

Sleep Token – This Place Will Become Your Tomb

Necrofier – Prophecies Of Eternal Darkness

Ex Deo – The Thirteen Years Of Nero

Carcass – Torn Arteries

Aeon Zen – Transversal

Enslaved – Caravans To The Outer Worlds

A Dying Planet – When The Skies Are Grey

Leprous – Aphelion

Night Crowned – Hädanfärd

Brainstorm – Wall Of Skulls

At The Gates – The Nightmare Of Being

Rivers Of Nihil – The Work

Fractal Universe – The Impassable Horizon

Darkthrone – Eternal Hails

Thy Catafalque – Vadak

Terra Odium – Ne Plus Ultra

Hiraes – Solitary

Eye Of Purgatory – The Lighthouse

Crowne – Kings In The North

Desaster – Churches Without Saints

Helloween – Helloween

Fear Factory – Aggression Continuum

Wooden Veins – In Finitude

Plaguestorm – Purifying Fire

Drift Into Black – Patterns Of Light

Alluvial – Sarcoma

White Moth Black Butterfly – The Cost Of Dreaming – Album Review

Silver Lake by Esa Holopainen

Bloodbound – Creatures From The Dark Realm

Nahaya – Vital Alchemy

Frost* – Day And Age

Obsolete Theory – Downfall

Vola – Witness

Acolyte – Entropy

Dordeduh – Har

Subterranean Masquerade – Mountain Fever

Seth – La Morsure Du Christ

The Circle – Metamorphosis

Nordjevel – Fenriir

Vreid – Wild North West

Temtris – Ritual Warfare

Astrakhan – A Slow Ride Towards Death

Akiavel – Vae Victis

Gojira – Fortitude

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

Benthos – II

Evile – Hell Unleashed

Ninkharsag – The Dread March Of Solemn Gods

Bodom After Midnight – Paint The Sky With Blood

Morrigu – In Turbulence

Mother Of All – Age Of The Solipsist

Throne – Pestilent Dawn

Sweet Oblivion (Geoff Tate) – Relentless

Exanimis – Marionnettiste

Dvne – Etemen Ænka

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Arion – Vultures Die Alone

Maestitium – Tale Of The Endless

Wode – Burn In Many Mirrors

Everdawn – Cleopatra

Unflesh – Inhumation

Mourning Dawn – Dead End Euphoria

Wheel – Resident Human

Wythersake – Antiquity

Odd Dimension – The Blue Dawn

Metalite – A Virtual World

Cryptosis – Bionic Swarm

Ghosts Of Atlantis –

Memoriam – To The End

Aversed – Impermanent

Secret Sphere – Lifeblood

Enforced – Kill Grid

Liquid Tension Experiment – LTE3

Turbulence – Frontal

Iotunn – Access All Worlds

Warrior Path – The Mad King

Stortregn – Impermanence

Mariana’s Rest – Fata Morgana

Orden Ogan – Final Days

Witherfall – Curse Of Autumn

Plague Weaver – Ascendant Blasphemy

Ephemerald – Between The Glimpses Of Hope

Paranorm – Empyrean

Einherjer – North Star

Epica – Omega

Humanity’s Last Breath – Välde

Simulacrum – Genesis

Forhist – Forhist

Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix

Empyrium – Über den Sternen

Moonspell – Hermitage

Infernalizer – The Ugly Truth

Temperance – Melodies Of Green And Blue EP

Malice Divine – Malice Divine

Revulsion – Revulsion

Demon King – The Final Tyranny EP

Dragony – Viribus Unitis

Soen – Imperial

Angelus Apatrida – Angelus Apatrida

Oceana – The Pattern

Therion – Leviathan

Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Asphyx – Necroceros

W.E.T. – Retransmission

Labyrinth – Welcome To The Absurd Circus

TDW – The Days The Clock Stopped

Need – Norchestrion: A Song For The End

You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here:

2020 reviews

2019 reviews
2018 reviews
2017 reviews
2016 reviews
2015 reviews


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