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Valborg – Nekrodepression

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Valborg’s very existence is a balance of paradoxical restraint. They are easily the highest-profile collective scuttling under the Zeitgeister banner—largely due to their presence as a live act—but they take great care to keep all operations in-house. Their scope may be panoramic, but their grip is firm.

In their brief, prolific career, Valborg has carved a gnarly little niche. Despite dalliances with arena-rock space jams about raping the sun and forging gods from feces—and oddball attempts to grimly recreate Tim Cappello’s Santa Carla beach party—they’ve always kept themselves nestled within the confines of a wary enclave.

As such, their progressions have been calculated. For 2010’s Crown of Sorrow, the band slathered themselves in paint to convey their seedy, lurching nature. They moved slowly. They clung to the shadows, cowering into crevices, hurling rocks at passers-by.

In 2012, they’ve emerged. Bright. Clean. Confident. Their crisp presentation reflects a stark, newfound minimalism.

In whittling themselves to their essence, Valborg are now at their strongest. Their Tom G.-meets-JKB aesthetic has always pulled and strained from its core with aggressive abandon. (Note the violent, blasting swirls of “Wisdom of the Vortex” and “Thunderbolt,” from Crown of Sorrow.) Nekrodepression represents a gravitational inward force. Valborg is no longer space itself. It’s a dead star. It stands alone. Confident. Defiant. Even in death.

Many point to early Frost as a reference point, which was true of prior efforts. But Nekrodepression is more of a Krautrock Eparistera Daimones. Even a would-be party-rocker like “Massaker In St. Urstein” comes off like a testament to the virtues of Spartan primitivism.

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Valborg – “Massaker in St. Urstein” (Live, 2012)

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Florian Toyka’s sparse drumming is the essence of this record’s tar-sucking heaviness. Sure, the powerful bellows and droning chants of Jan Buckard and Christian Kolf set a crushing tone, but Toyka’s simplistic beats deftly navigate the subtle turns of “Springtime Woman.”

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Valborg – “Springtime Woman”

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Some will view the scuttling of prior progressive traits (the nine-minute epics, Kolf’s attempts at actual singing) in a negative light, casting Nekrodepression as some kind of regression. It’s not.

In a metallic climate built on one-upsmanship and competition, where press releases and “interviews” tout bands that are stoked to be releasing their “fastest, heaviest, darkest material to date!”, where the boundaries of good taste constantly being tested and challenged, Nekrodepression is a revelation. Less is, indeed, more. We are simple creatures. Whether by launching themselves into space or crashing headlong to the core, Valborg reminds us.

— Jordan Campbell

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Zeitgeister Bandcamp (Digital download)

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