[8/10] Mention the term “one-man black metal band” and right away, images of a dude in his studio apartment with a Tascam 4-track recorder, crappy amp, crappier guitar, and demented thought process comes to mind. You can blame the now-defunct Xasthur for this, as Malefic set the bar so low for quality production that in turn, sounding like your album was recorded in a shoebox became the standard and norm. Eventually, something has to give, as in, assembling a proper lineup and recording an album that sounds listenable. This is what happened to Lars Stavdal of Norway’s Wallachia.
After forming in 1995 and releasing the way-under-the-radar From Beyond the Light in 1999, Stavdal put the band on ice until 2005. Ceremony of Ascension was released in 2009 to virtually no fanfare, perhaps the result of its subpar production aesthetic, which by then, had become outdated. The band’s lineup has now morphed into a six-piece, including persons responsible for cellos, violins, and the rather unique role of “orchestrations,” a title belonging to Paal André Sandnesmo. Heck, not even Dimmu Borgir has a person responsible for orchestrations…that’s what full orchestras are for. However, the budget difference between Dimmu and Wallachia is probably seismic.
Shunya (the band’s third) is a mini triumph, zeroing in on partially avant-garde black metal (see: “Ksatriya”) and full-fledged extremity (“Dual Nothingness”). While there is a relatively obvious degree of balance across the album’s eight songs, Stavdal and friends consistently churn out hair-raising black metal moments, like during the galloping melodic portions on “Enlightened by Deception” or the mid-90’s chill of “Nostalgia Among the Ruins of Common Sense,” recalling a mid-paced Dimmu when they were in their Stormblast period.
Considering Debemur Morti’s position as a black metal melting point, the signing of Wallachia makes perfect sense, as there is no boundaries to be found on Shunya. There is broad appeal here, with pull coming in for corpse-paint necro do-gooders, as well as the side of the fence that won’t touch anything that isn’t the slightest bit out there.
Wallachia on Bandcamp
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