Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Review: Vrag – Harcom

Label: Filosofem Records

Date: September 18th, 2021

Talk about DIY practices in black metal. A one-man band whose sole member started a label to produce his own records. Albums that are recorded and produced on his own in his own recording studio. If he could only master painting so that he can claim credit for the cover artwork as well…

Actually, considering the work done by Anvil Kvlt for “Harcom”, it might be a better idea to stick with him a while longer. A majestic work captivating the record’s ambience, as much as paying tribute to the olden gods of second wave black metal. Using a bit of a twist, mostly in the coloring scheme. Grand work, I must say.

Plus, everything I’ve mentioned for the cover artwork might just be true for the album itself.

I’ve known Vrag for a long while now. No, not the actual figure (Vrag is the devil in my native language). This, over a decade old, band started off with a bunch of demo and split recordings. I’ve managed to acquire some of them via underground trading circles back in the day. And I wasn’t impressed, to say the least. Back then, Vrag seemed to be just another band looking to emulate the feel of 90’s Norway. Admittedly, I’ve lost interest quite quickly. Thus, I was caught unaware of what Vrag has been up to recently.

Meanwhile, “Harcom”, the third full length record, sprung out at me. Let me tell you one thing. Vrag has grown up into a formidable force. Most of all, in the creative sense, considering the stylistics have not changed and the Hungarian stayed in his comfort zone of second wave black metal. What’s more, it is still quite raw and primitive in its basis. However, none can now dub it minimalist nor primitive.

The riffing present on “Harcom” is kept down to earth, but it was crafted with much more skill and imagination. This way we got forty five minutes of strong and inventive guitars that follow the pattern, but are hardly “heard before”. Also, the repetitive patterns that are ever close companions of nine minutes (on average) long tracks in black metal are broken to bits with rhythmic playfulness. And it is that playfulness itself that guides you through the atmosphere much needed with the type of music “Harcom” strives for.

The album leaves the chilling winters of Norway and focuses on the melancholy of autumn, focusing the lyrics around the grim solemnity of the season of wither. By the way, it is still not often a case where you get translations of the lyrics in the booklet. Thank you Vrag for putting them here. I’m sure some of the poetry is lost in translation, but they still seem good enough in English. They make me feel and understand “Harcom” deeper and more intensely.

Okay, there are negative sides to this album. I would surely like the vocals to come out stronger. Also, I cannot be the only one who hears “My Friend of Misery” in the opening section of “Az én keresztem“. And that’s about it. The rest is likely the case of personal taste. But if you are a huge black metal fan, you should have no problem calling “Harcom” a great album. Maybe not the one that will cast a shadow over “Transilvanian Hunger”, “Nattens Madrigal” or “Nemesis Divina”, but a damn good one nevertheless.