When it comes to films, there are few directors that manage to consistently impress me like Stanley Kubrick. The man has simply released countless masterpieces throughout his long and illustrious career, including immortal classics like A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, to name but a few. Part of what makes his films so great, in addition to numerous other factors, is his remarkable ability to create unsettling and powerful atmospheres in virtually any setting. When I heard that the debut album from New York-based metal act Vaura attempted to create the atmosphere of Kubrick's films in an avant-metal setting, you could say that I was intrigued. The fact that the project also consisted of some fairly seasoned musicians, including Toby Driver (of Kayo Dot and Maudlin of the Well fame), led to some high expectations on my part. After giving Selenelion quite a bit of attention lately, I can safely say that the band has lived up to all of them.
Selenelion is, at its core, a post-metal album with some leanings into avant-garde and progressive rock territory, but tying Vaura down to a simple label can be quite tough. Melancholic ambiance reminiscent of post rock is a frequently explored style, creating strong dynamics in contrast with the sludgy riffs, powerful vocals, and raw atmospheres. Like most of Kubrick's films, this album may take a few spins to 'click' for most listeners, as the complex compositions and dense arrangements will take a little time to get used to. On the surface, Selenelion is a dark, heavy, and rather quirky album, but over repeated listens, beautiful melodies really begin to set in and leave a major impression on the listener. That's the sign of a great album in my opinion, and it's exactly this depth that makes Vaura such a worthwhile act.
In short, listeners in search of a forward-thinking and unique modern metal album owe it to themselves to check out Selenelion. Vaura's unique concoction of post rock, sludge metal, avant-garde, progressive rock, doom metal, and black metal sets them apart from most other acts on the scene, and their tasteful sense of composition makes them well-worth listening to. Hopefully we get to see more from this promising quartet in the near future!
1. Souvenirs (4:43)
2. Drachma (4:23)
3. The Emanation (4:49)
4. En/Soph (5:11)
5. Relics (4:48)
6. Obsidian Damascene Sun (4:47)
7. Uncreated Light (Transfiguration) (4:33)
8. The Column's Vein (2:29)
9. Vanth (5:30)
10. Selenelion (7:03)
11. The Zahir (7:42)