24 Sep 2013

Vesterian - Anthems for the Coming War Age [Full length] (2013, Glorious North Productions)

Vesterian has existed in some form since 1994 and can soon celebrate their 20th anniversary. Until '96 they were known as Centurion and released two demos under this name. The name change brought 5 more demos until 2013 where the American band released their first album "Anthems for the Coming War Age" through Glorious North Productions. The fact that only demo material has been produced up until now, the name change and the large time gap between some demos speaks of a very turbulent background in the form of a relocation from North Carolina to California and a revolving door lineup.

From the roots of black metal like early Bathory, Venom and Hellhammer there has always been a sort of clumsy approach to music in the pursuit of extremity. But with Vesterian there is a much more modern attitude. There's nothing unsure or half-assed about it, neither the songwriting nor the enactment of the music.

Anthems for the Coming War Age features among other things a drummer that doesn't know how to relax and is probably way too generous with his blastbeats. It's always fast, all the time, even when it feels like a more controlled, deliberate pace would be more fitting. There are countless examples of black metal bands that use blastbeats very prominently in their music, and this is obviously not always a bad thing, but bands like Marduk seem to have it down to an art to use it with a bit more taste and deliberation. When all is said and done it seems like a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it does mean that at times Vesterian's music will become a bit monotonous and unvaried.
What the American quintet lacks in variation they more than make up for in sheer power though. There is not much to be left wanting in regards to envigoratingly furious guitar riffs, and the groaning Abbath-y vocals often venture beyond the realms of orthodox black metal in pursuit of greater depth and atmosphere.

In the end what it comes down to with Vesterian's debut album is whether or not you can tolerate the lengthier tracks that the band puts forth. With songs like Morax Gates, pt. 2, with its galloping drumwork, multiple layers of somewhat dissonant guitars, epic solo and long vocal-less stretches, it's proven that Vesterian aren't a one trick pony in any sense, and the Ancient Bloodthirst track shows that they have the capacity for more spectacular and grandios songwriting as well, but when almost every track is in excess of 6 minutes in length it seems weird that most songs seem to follow a pretty standard progression pattern. It's not that Anthems for the Coming War Age doesn't live up to its name, and it is a fun listen that I would recommend to all black metal fanatics, but it's been done before to the same standards. Even so, it's a magnificent example of modern black metal with no bullshit symphonic elements or 10-minute ambient intros, interludes and outros. 7/10 guitars.

1. Gathering
2. Under the Red Moon
3. Morax Gates, pt. 2
4. Ancient Bloodthirst
5. Unknown Spells Cast from Nibiru's Watch Tower
6. For Battles to Come
7. Dead Kings of Tyranny
8. Dark Oceans Roar During the Cosmic Upheaval
9. Blasphemous Sorcery of a Witch King

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