Thursday 22 March 2018

Review: V▲LH▲LL – 'Grimoire'


It has been four years since Sweden's V▲LH▲LL released their debut album 'Leaning On Shadows', and in that time they've kept busy releasing a remix companion and two further EPs that have continued to diversify and experiment with their sound. 2018 sees the release of their sophomoric effort 'Grimoire'; a fitting title given their penchant for incorporating witch house and neofolk influences into their music.

It's easy to hear the band's influences in their music, but the way in which they combine them more than surpasses the sum of it's parts. Witch house, neofolk, darkwave, electro, and even a few electro-pop elements all combine into a heady witches brew that balances the modern and the arcane. Tracks such as 'Bonetrees', 'Dead Waves', 'Lilies For Belial', 'Ormen's Offer', and 'Aeons Unveiled' continue to develop those familiar aspects of the band's sound with the distorted male vocals countered by the melodic feminine tones, and the left-field use of rhythms and analogue electronics.

The band still throw a few curve balls as well with the dark but pop-flavoured title track, the hypnotic swing of 'Ruins Of Vanaland', the trip-hop influenced 'The Hunt', and the instrumental closer 'Niðingrdans' with it's most overtly witch house vibes on the album. But it's the addition of the violin in particular on 'Ormen's Offer', courtesy of Jessica Pimentel, that gives the album it's most magically-infused moment.

The band's production has always been very good on every release and even at the band's most experimental on 'Grimoire' there is an accessibility that counterbalances everything nicely. There is always something tangible underneath every song that holds it together and keeps the focus.

This is another strong release from V▲LH▲LL that shows off their finest songwriting so far. Hypnotic and magical their blending of genres and incorporating of occult and mythological themes creates a winning combination. With 'Grimoire' they have summoned something very special .

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