Vesperian Sorrow - Awaken The Greylight

Artist: Vesperian Sorrow

Album Title: Awaken The Greylight

Label: Black Lion Records

Date of Release: 26 April 2024

It has been twelve years since the entity known as Vesperian Sorrow last released a full-length album of original material. There was the 2019 re-release of their third album, ‘Regenesis Creation’, but 2012 was the last time that new music emerged from Austin, Texas. However, the Americans are back in 2024 with ‘Awaken The Greylight’, their fifth album over a career that has spanned over a quarter of a century.

When I say that Vesperian Sorrow have returned, I actually mean two original band members have returned alongside a clutch of newbies. And, by ‘newbies’ I mean the members that joined in 2019 around the time of the re-release. The originals who remain are drummer/keyboardist Christopher Nunez and guitarist Will Rohirrim, whilst the more recent additions appear in the form of vocalist Orlando Logan Olivero and bassist Gabe Reyes.

I must admit that Vesperian Sorrow are another of those bands whose name rings a bell with me, but their music doesn’t. I’m glad, therefore, that I get to put that right finally. Mind you, if I’m honest, the artwork that adorns ‘Awaken The Greylight’ really doesn’t do the band any favours because were I to have chosen on this basis alone, the uninspiring cover would almost certainly have caused me to dismiss Vesperian Sorrow and move on. Thankfully, the logo alone persuaded me, and I dived in, albeit a little reluctantly.

The reluctance was short-lived as it turns out, because ‘Awaken The Greylight’ is pretty entertaining. It doesn’t chart any previously unnavigated waters, but what it does do, is offer an extremely solid and commendable dose of symphonic black metal, laced with an air of grandiose pomposity and plenty of melody. It could do with a touch of editing if I’m being ultra-critical, as some of the tracks are feel a touch bloated in places, but overall, I’m rather taken with ‘Awaken The Greylight’.

Unusually, it’s one of those albums that seems to get better as it goes along, with plenty of the best material to be found in the centre of the record, rather than being front or back loaded. In fact, the opener, ‘The Pillars Were Raised’ is one of my least favourites. It kicks off in a very bombastic orchestral manner, and is as much about death metal as it is black metal. There’s an initial Fleshgod Apocalypse feel to the track, albeit blended by some fast picked, spiky riffs to sit alongside the blastbeats and the chunkier six-string action. Lead solos creep out of the woodwork as it progresses too, with the gruff vocals really quite deep sounding. There’s even a blast of quasi-clean singing just after the half-way mark.

Vesperian Sorrow - Awaken The Greylight

As the second track kicks in, it’s almost as if Vesperian Sorrow remember that they are billed as a black metal band. ‘Antidiluvian – Proceeding The Unshaping’ explodes into life with a much frostier and bitingly cold black metal attack with higher-pitched, screamed vocals, a slightly faster pace, and an overall feel that’s quite different from the opener. As it develops, it settles down and in so doing, offers much greater melody, more of those clean vocals, and a slower pace. However, there are still blasts of faster black metal savagery, reminiscent of bands like early Agathodaimon unless I’m hearing things. The symphonics remain, but the whole thing works better for my tastes, and it is, aside from being a minute or so too long, a pretty brilliant song.

The theme of ‘too long’ also applies to a few of the band’s song titles as well, with ‘An Epistle To The Prime Vivified’ following it’s equally wordy predecessor. Nevertheless, the composition itself is another tasty slab of extreme metal. It’s a little slower and more symphonic in approach but again, the melodic sensibilities are strong, almost immediately grabbing my attention in the process. The spoken-word intro to ‘Traverse the Vorthonian Passage’ calls to mind the sadly slumbering Bal Sagoth, especially when bathed with the symphonics. Overall, it’s a much more extreme and hard-hitting track despite featuring some pretty theatrical lead vocals in the mid-section of the song and a strong Dimmu Borgir vibe within the song’s second half.

One of the very best tracks on this record is the preposterously named ‘A Dire Flight For The Black Fragment’. It follows a similar blackened death blueprint, but it benefits from a really strong central guitar-led melody and some arresting lead guitar lines that are catchy as hell if you listen to them more than once or twice. It’s not as heavy as other songs perhaps, but it has a nice driving pace to it and a good blend between melody and aggression, not to mention a full range of vocal deliveries along the way.

Elsewhere, there’s the speedy, all-out attack of ‘Seek The Last Priestess Of Tyyk’ which mixes the fast pace with rich symphonics, some excellent drumming, and more memorable, epic sounding melodies. Or ‘Who Dwells Within The Blight Moon’, the intro for which is out of the very top draw. Laser-sharp blastbeats accompany an immediately rousing melody, the soundtrack to allow the listener to traverse into another realm of mighty proportions.

The more I listen to ‘Awaken The Greylight’, the more I find myself enjoying it and succumbing to its melodic blackened charms. It’s not perfect, but who is? It could do with a little editing as I mentioned earlier, and the production feels just a little on the weak side to allow the full incendiary experience to assault us, particularly where the guitars are concerned as they get a little lost occasionally. But these issues aside, there’s little else to fault what is a rather triumphant, long-awaited return for Vesperian Sorrow. On the evidence of ‘Awaken The Greylight’, I sincerely hope we don’t have such a long wait for the next instalment.

The Score of Much Metal: 87%



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