Vorga - Beyond The Palest Star

Artist: Vorga

Album Title: Beyond The Palest Star

Label: Transcending Obscurity

Date of Release: 29 March 2024

A couple of years ago, out of nowhere, I was left thoroughly impressed with an album called ‘Striving Towards Oblivion’. It happened to be the debut full-length from a German trio by the name of Vorga, and it made some waves, I can tell you. Almost exactly two years later, the band has returned with their sophomore full-length outing, ‘Beyond The Palest Star’. Ever since learning of its impending arrival, I have been excited to hear what the trio have done to build upon the success of their debut, and finally it is time to find out.

Whether or not it’s because I was aware of the band this time around and therefore had higher expectations, but I initially struggled a touch with ‘Beyond The Palest Star’. As time has gone on, I have warmed much more to the music with which Vorga present us, but at no time have I felt that full-on exhilarating rush of excitement and eagerness about it as I did with ‘Striving Towards Oblivion’.

It took me a while to figure out what it was that was hampering my enjoyment, and then it hit me: ‘Beyond The Palest Star’ simply doesn’t sound as good as its predecessor from a production standpoint. When I listen to it, too often I find myself hit with almost impenetrable walls of sound that become uncomfortable after a while. I went back to the debut to check and, for my money, that one just sounds better. Plus, I have to say, I find the debut more immediate and melodic for my tastes. This record starts well, but the quality wanes just a bit for me in the latter stages.

However, these criticisms do not mean that ‘Beyond The Palest Star’ is not a good album. Because it is. These criticisms don’t mean that Vorga have released a substandard album. Because they have haven’t. These criticisms are an honest take from me, having spent a good deal of time with the album, an album that is still better than a huge chunk of the music I’ve heard this year so far. ‘Beyond The Palest Star’ will still end up on many an end-of-year ‘best of’ list because there will be plenty of people who absolutely love it, and rightly so. And let’s be clear, in spite of my comments, I really like the album too. I just maybe wanted a little something more.

Vorga - Beyond The Palest Star

It all begins with ‘Voideath’, which starts out tentatively, and with loads of otherworldly atmosphere, the layers of synths and samples increasing to swirl around a lone guitar. It doesn’t take long for the full force of Vorga’s black metal onslaught to hit, though, and when it does, it’s an intense flurry of blastbeats and melodic riffing, unfolding then to release a chugging central riff that gets those neck muscles moving. I really like the sound of the main guitars, as they have a satisfying power and strength to them. Again, the synths swirl to create that cosmic feel that’s the staple of the Vorga sound, as the vocals rasp and snarl within the maelstrom of sound, a sound I just wish was a little more distinct. The lead guitar lines are once again a real treat, elevating the music further, and adding to the melodic intent that remains across the album.

My favourite of all the tracks is next, thanks to a really cheeky and standout guitar riff right from the beginning. It’s catchy, whilst not sacrificing any of the inherent dark intent; indeed, the riff has a sinister edge to it, a little hypnotic at times, from which the blackened assault can stem. Overall, it’s a generally slower-paced composition, which allows the music to breathe just that little bit more. The bass and drum breakdown is also a nice touch at just after the halfway mark.

Just to add an extra layer of cinematic bombast to the album, ‘Magical Thinking’ introduces some vocal samples at the beginning, surrounded by ominous synths. The guitar notes when they arrive are delicious, and the whole song starts strongly, coalescing into another super track that builds on the atmosphere that has already been created and amplifying it even more. The staccato riffs shimmer nicely throughout, whilst I detect a latent sadness in the music presented. But whilst I like the song and the melodies are definitely more pronounced, I do wonder whether there’s justification for it lasting nearly seven minutes, as my ears are exhausted as it draws to a close.

If you’re wanting any let-up, then tracks like the well named ‘The Cataclysm’ and ‘Tragic Humanity’ don’t oblige at all, blazing forth in aggressive fashion as is the Vorga way. Admittedly, the former in particular does have a nice melodic core as it thunders along at warp speed, underpinned by drums that gallop as much as they mete out blastbeats. The latter does grow with repeated listens, too, it must be said.

And then there’s the final track, ‘Terminal’, which again makes use of some very bold electronics to set things rolling one final time on this particular journey through space. I really like this track, too, as its slower delivery allows for greater space for the instruments, and it allows the melodies to work their magic more effectively than elsewhere. It’s still a heavy track with a black metal framework, but the cinematics of it are excellent, ensuring that the album ends on a really high note.

I’ll say it again: ‘Beyond The Palest Star’ is a very good album, with a great deal to like about it, and to commend it for. I will be adding it to my collection, but not immediately, because I do need to give my ears a rest for a while. And this is what stops it from being one of the best albums released this year for me. That, and the fact that I still feel like I wanted it to be better, given how much I loved their debut. I’m still a Vorga fan, though, and look forward to what comes next from them.

The Score of Much Metal: 83%



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