VVOV – Stygian Baptism (2019)

As well as the totally abstruse name of VVOV, it already has been quickly introduced during my own 2018’s retrospective – under VerdamMnis webzine – following the release of Like Saturn just before the end of the year. Since then, the duo continues to be prolific with three records coming out soon in 2019 already, and without counting the instrumental compilation. A rhythm a little too enthusiastic where the quantity can encroach upon the quality but which can be justified by a frenetic inspiration.

If we focus on Stygian Baptism, second and last album in date, we will see a musical shift at first glance where the band is clearly influenced by the Black Metal scene lately. This is reflected in their songwriting including a completely assumed blast on II. Doloribus Itur and Upheaval, where come the The Vessel’s harsh shrieks while being carried by this famous Synthwave retro keyboard. So we find ourselves with a rather unexpected rendering for the still relatively young genre, whose limits have not yet been exploited, nor pushed to the limits although the idea is not new: SHREDDER 1984, GREGORIO FRANCO, GÖR FLSH … are not on their first strike.

We thus move away from the plurality of Like Saturn‘s tracks where each title reflected an image of an artist seeking its own identity, being in two minds about each style to suit the sound in which they will evolve. The result was interesting and the songs well-made but the whole could lack coherence. The band is thus gaining in skill like some interesting rhythm changes on Immaculate Pain, or a big effort on the keyboard in The Hedonist or Upheaval, with very catchy melodies. Too bad the inspiration has run out to end those two potential hits: the further we progress through the tracks and the more they become muddled or even cacophonous.

This is what VVOV will miss to make them a reference: the finalization. Most songs start with a good idea but it unfortunately falls gradually apart as the listening progresses. That’s unfortunate because we will stay on a slight disappointment at the end of each song, which feels unfinished. All the more since, the tracks length rarely exceed three minutes. The band that could be described as the « grindcore of the darksynth » would benefit from further exploit its flair by polishing it with a longer introspection towards its compositions.

What we remember is an album released too early. There is motivation under a big latent potential but the execution remains sketchy and comes out with a lot of frustration. Nevertheless, VVOV finally seems to have found its own sound and evolves exponentially in it, which their next release Deathbed of Humanity seems to promise.

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