Genre: Black / Death Metal
Country: Spain
Label: War Anthem Records
Year: 2018

“Vacvvm” is the third full length album by Spanish Balmog, who have been around for fifteen years now and have a bunch of smaller scale releases throughout these years for you to look for, other than main records. The band focuses on clean cut black metal as it was shaped after the change of the millennium, with slight death metal influences here and there, without overdoing it with technicality or experimentation.

In fact, when listening to the album, one can retrieve influencing bands very quickly and many moments feel reminiscent of other acts, something that stands in the way of “Vacvvm” being memorable in overall. While it is well written, with no huge deficiencies, it also follows already reproduced ideas and at the end of the day, this might not even be the biggest drawback there is for some people. Its production offers a great sound with aggressive guitars and drums, but above all are the thunderous vocals that, in my opinion, stand out.

The concept is mainly around theology and Satanism, some lines are in latin, or Greek (the track “Gignesthai” means “to become”) and also, the band chose to replace “u” with “v” in the title, as they have done before and many first recognized in the genre from Behemoth. This pretty much means Balmog haven’t really changed their area of interest after all these years and albums, and “Vacvvm” will not catch you off guard musically either.

Distant touches of Deathspell Omega do exist, in chilling lines like the track “Hodogetria”, but I wouldn’t say they go towards there too much. Apart from the pure metal parts, which cover 90% of the music, there is a short synth introduction at the track “Vigil of the Blinds”, which maintains a somehow slow pace that doesn’t really affect the listener. Vacvvm’s only interlude is the three minute piece “Inde Deus Abest”, which shows the drone / dark ambient / noise side of the band and even the introduction to the record, is just one minute of fast hammering of instruments and inhuman screams above that.

The most obvious reference comes from the track “Come to the Pulpit”. From the last word, Watain immediately ring a bell, and then the track’s introduction itself is almost the same as Watain’s track “Sworn to the Dark”. This might summarize the whole record, as a combination of Deathspell Omega (not too much), the middle paced structured Marduk use in their recent albums (check “Gignesthai”), the guitar lines of Watain, but not too much of Balmog itself anywhere. “Vacvvm” is a good record but I would like to listen to more personal compositions in the future if they are willing to stand out.

3/6