Vetter – Av Sublim Natur (EN)

Artist : Vetter

Origin : Norway

Date : 2021

Genre : Psychedelic Black Metal

Ceci est la version Anglaise. Pour lire la chronique en français, c’est par ici

I am about to try and put words on a sonic monster that haunted me for the better and worst part of 2021. While I usually start my writing in a confident (read: pedantic) mood, carrying a couple of literary ideas and cheap tricks to subjugate my audience, here I find myself helpless before a magnificent foe that powered me through sheer, speechless emotion.

What I am certain of, however, is that what we are looking at here is the single best Black Metal album to come out in 2021. Maybe even the only TRUE one. To give such a bold and arbitrary statement upfront, while it certainly fits the average Black Metaller’s rhetorical arsenal, does call for an explanation. At the very least it necessitates to re-assess this too often overlooked question : who are you, Black Metal ?

Vetter is Norwegian, for starters. It is the project of one man, Håvard Tveito (with a guest drummer on this second album). It only features two visionary albums separated by almost ten years of silence. It is recorded and mixed in Håvard’s home studio, and is about fascination for Nature and ancient Norwegian Folklore. Sounds familiar, right ?

Well, this one actually ain’t.

Everything about the technique, compositional approach and sound engineering is modern. Everything about the sound, the ethos and the atmosphere is… Ancient.

Av Sublim Natur will not take you on an icy ride to Vinterland through swirling tremolo riffs and underproduced blast beats. It rather creates the Old and Mysterious Forest all around you with a heavy, Sabbathian incantation. From the very first second, a cloak of noise wraps up around the listener. Droning guitars. Deafening, monolithic bass line. Then a juggernaut blast beat comes up, and we. are. off.

All along its five tracks, Av Sublim Natur delivers a consistent experience, oppressive at first, but hypnotic. There’s very few melody per se ; only cautiously built guitar tones full of drone, creating soundscapes more than actual riffs. Yet the album is far from Ambient ; there is a fierce dynamic to every single moment, upheld by the osmose between the guitar walls and the monstrous drum work of N. M. Haugfos that sounds like Bill Ward turned into the Hulk, delivering pummeling blasts and heavy grooves.

The sound of Vetter, though unquestionably tied to Black Metal, is unique in that it is subtly elaborate while rejecting any idea of showing off. The compositions and singing are crude, monolithic mantras and the overall impression, at first, is that we have a Raw, old school Black Metal in front of us. Smelling of “Northern Sky Blaze” Darkthrone, doomy Hellhammer / Celtic Frost riffs, and old Thorns razor guitar tones, lingering on Kyussian grooves. But what sets it even more apart and I did not notice initially, is the pitch-perfect mixing and mastering. There is noise – a lot of it. But every line is at its place ; guitars, bass, drums, sparse keyboards, everything is here, audible, and serving its exact right proportion of the overall atmosphere. You don’t “notice” what happens, you just feel it.

Old vibes, droning guitar soundscapes, litanic phrases and incantations, hammering drums all forged together in a torrent of smothering, mesmerizing, bleak psychedelia.

Av Sublim Natur is a tour de force, one of the few albums that clearly remind me what Black Metal is originally all about : primitive power and stripped-down sonic aesthetics triggering gut-wrenching emotion, turning rage and fear into something deeper than oneself. Transcendental despair and cathartic fury that dragged me through my lowest moments, and helped me process my pain by making it mine, rather than blowing it away. Making it no less than the single best album of 2021 to me.