Vegard get a final repress of Bewithced By Moonlight Rituals courtesy of Lone Vigil Records (run by Chris Naughton of Winterfylleth).
Released: May 19th 2020
Label: Lone Vigil Records
Format: CD / Digital
There is nothing about the face value of this Vegard record that suggested I was about to be surprised. The Nordic sounding band name, the occult nature of the album and track titles, along with the bleak woodland landscape of the artwork, from Wolcensmen’s Dan Capp, completely and utterly scream black metal. Yet as I worked my way around the moody recesses of Bewitched by Moonlight Rituals (BBMR) I found myself very pleasantly surprised by an LP that belies it’s suggested darkness with a sound that is altogether more uplifting.
Yes there are all the staple black metal elements on show here, but Vegard employ synths throughout to mix up the formula a little bit. The idea of synths in black metal immediately brings Evilfeast to mind, but here they are employed more for melody than atmosphere and at times it gives BBMR a soundtracky quality to it that is almost reminiscent of post rock bands like 65daysofstatic. Particularly on the massive Ageless Autumnal Lairs where soaring, almost euphoric chord progressions, accompany the pulsating guitars and demonic vocals to fantastic effect. Rather than exploring the depths of hell BBMR gave me a sense of emerging victoriously from it.
The mix of Bewitched also deserves a mention as it does not overload you with any one sound, in its louder moments it overwhelms you with a spectacular wall of noise. A solid block of an audio waveform. The vocal also blends tremendously into this as it acts more of an additional instrument than a definitive lead vocal. There is calm amidst the storm however and the album does have its fair share of ‘down time,’ with Summoned To Dusk in particular dissembling into a folky breakdown part way through. Vegard appear to be very considered in their approach to their craft as well, there are very few uproarious blast beats to be found here, but that is not to say it is without its peaks and troughs. At times the way it explores juxtaposing ambience with extreme noise is reminiscent of Devil Sold his Soul.
Moonlight Rituals really is a fantastic listen. For me it doesn’t conjure up the kind of frightful imagery you would usually associate with the genre but it is certainly not to its detriment. For me it would act as a great bridge for any post rock fans looking to explore a darker realm. Bewitched by Moonlight Rituals is atmospheric black metal for a summer’s day.