Deus Ex Machina
27 October 2014
by Pete Long
It’s probably enshrined in ancient charter that all Polish metal bands must have at least one member who at some point has contributed to one of Behemoth, Vader or Decapitated. Sure enough, of Vesania’s three founder members, frontman Orion plays bass with Behemoth, bassist Heinrich has played with Decapitated, and drummer Daray has played with Vader (and just about everyone else). It sort of makes them a supergroup in reverse. It also probably accounts for why it’s been seven years between albums.
That kind of delay is unfortunate because Vesania have a lot to offer. At their best, they possess a macabre theatricality and a fractured unpredictability that compares comfortably to Arcturus, both in style and quality. At the same time, there’s a hard edge to Vesania that Arcturus (and most of the big symphonic bands around today) lack. The songs which embody this approach best, like ‘Dismay’ and ‘Disillusion’, threaten the territory of the very classics of the genre.
While it feels churlish to single out one man from an excellent collective for this, Daray’s drumming is exceptional in the way it provides the backbone for all these gymnastics. Shorter, punchier tracks like ‘Vortex’ keep the listener guessing and help build a slightly unsettling atmosphere – or at least they do for half the album.
The other half – or maybe third – is where things fall down a little. The skewed genius that characterises Vesania’s best goes missing. It makes Deus Ex Machina feel like a long album, despite clocking in at just under 50 minutes. Songs like ‘Fading’ struggle to keep the attention or do anything you couldn’t get from any number of rival symphonic black metal bands. Only ‘Scar’, with its contrast of softly beguiling melodies and harsh bombast, maintains the standard of the earlier part of the record.
Frankly, Vesania could have cut a good ten minutes from Deus Ex Machina without anyone being the wiser, and most people being happier. Half a great album and half an okay album is a lot better than producing nothing of merit at all though, particularly when bands like Vesania aren’t ten-a-penny to begin with. Hopefully we won’t be waiting another seven years for a follow-up.
Sounds Like: Symphonic Black Metal that forgot its medication.
Standout Tracks: Scar, Disillusion, Dismay.