After touring together in their respective bands, K. Morgan of Ash Borer M. Rekevics of Fell Voices, two of the best US Black metal band, have bonded together over their love of cascadian black metal and Weakling to create Vanum. There isn’t much here that will surprise fans of both bands, or of current black metal, but Realm of sacrifice will provide everything they want and need from an album of the genre.
Furthermore, it’s pleasing to finally here something from these musicians since both Ash Borer and Fell Voices have remained silent since 2013 after releasing one EP and one album respectively. As relative experts in this genre, Realm of sacrifice is just as good as what these musicians have created in their own bands even if the result is very close to the music of Weakling. In fact, just to be clear, the only big difference between Realm of sacrifice and Dead as dreams are mostly the vocals. While John Gossard‘s (Dispirit, ex. Asunder, ex. The Gault) demented vocal cord shredding gave the album an urgency absent from a lot of the more atmospheric bands in the US black metal scene, Vanum‘s vocals are more standard death and black metal growls and shrieks.
Despite the impossibility to not compare both bands, Realm of sacrifice is a very good album and is a worthy follow-up to Dead as dreams. Vanum stays away from the black gaze and goes for a more epic feel with some excellent early Enslaved inspiring riffing on In immaterial flame. Also, although they stay in the background, the constant backdrop of beats fit perfectly the need for a solid backbone to these tremolo heavy slabs of guitar. Realm of sacrifice provides exactly the kind of music you think of when someone says « USBM » but it delivers a perfect performance and an album that stands proudly with the classics of the genre.