Album Stream: VUYVR – “Eiskalt”

It’s rare that second-wave-style black metal does much for me these days. The classic canon is great, of course. With a few exceptions, though, more recent attempts to replicate Darkthrone, Immortal, and their ilk fall flat. Their rickety attack, so daring in the early 90s, sounds frail and conservative now. Iconoclasts don’t model themselves on older, better-respected iconoclasts.

Such prejudices have consequences. Raw-ish pseudo-Norwegian black metal released after 2000 usually slices through my hard drive like a beer with “Lite” in its name. I’m not sure why I gave Vuyvr, whose debut album is now available for free on Bandcamp and via Throatruiner Records’ Mediafire site, the time of day. On another day I probably wouldn’t have. I’m lucky that I did.

This Swiss band hails from an unusual lineage for a black metal act. Two metalcore musicians, Roderic Mounir (Knut, drums) and Michaël Schindl (Impure Wilhelmina, guitar/vocals), form its core. Both Knut and Impure Wilhelmina were deeply underrated, and Vuyvr’s press materials do not make much of the connection. (The band members are credited only by their surnames.)

Eiskalt works within the 20-year-old Scandinavian template, but does far more with it than most. The superficial elements are familiar; the production favors treble frequencies, the tones rattle instead of roar, and the blastbeats flow early and often. Real personality breaks through the veneer of trem riffs and howling, though: Mounir delivers deep grooves, while Schindl strings plaintive post-punk melodies across wiry arpeggios.

Eiskalt sounds like second-wave black metal, but it also sounds like a group of real people with real personalities. Revealing yourself through a style as staid as this one takes guts—more guts than corpsepaint and spikes usually allow for.

- Doug Moore