[Review] Vials of Wrath – Days Without Names
Vials of Wrath – Days Without Names
Genre: Ambient/Atmospheric Black Metal
Days Without Names is an album that I had been anticipating long before it first came out. I enjoyed DC Mills’ previous release, Seeking Refuge, and after hearing the track “A Cleansing Prayer” (which DC put online a while before the album came out), I knew that Days Without Names would be something special. The day I received it in the mail, I ripped the CD and got the files onto my iPod. I then went outside and wandered in the wilderness while listening to the full album, as I figured I should for music as nature-inspired as this. It was quite an experience, and something that I highly recommend you do if you already own this album. I really enjoyed my time, though I didn’t think that the album was absolutely amazing; I thought of it as simply great. I didn’t think that it would be an “instant classic” or anything like that, just something that might be considered one of, if not the best album of 2015 for Christian black metal. Coming back to it several months later, I can say that I enjoy it a lot more now than I used to. This is without a doubt my favorite release from 2015, and I now think that it will indeed be a classic remembered for years to come in our scene.
Black metal in this style can be a hard thing to pull off well. It can be easy to create long songs that drag on and on, not really leading to anything and with nothing memorable in them. But DC created long songs that catch my attention and enthrall me, taking me away for an epic adventure. The atmosphere is incredible. It is created mostly by background synths and ambience. The synth work is usually just chords that act as a backdrop to the rest of the music, rarely carrying the melody. In the occasional instance that they do have melody, it’s typically awesome. The ending of “Revival of the Embers” is one of my favorite examples of this. It features a rather shrill but simultaneously and paradoxically calming synth melody playing with an acoustic guitar. A crackling fire can be heard in the background. That outro really stuck with me. The ambience usually pertains to nature, such as the aforementioned fire crackling, and the album also has rainfall ambience, crickets chirping, and bird sounds. Wherever it’s used, it always sounds great and contributes to the atmosphere well. Additional atmosphere is created mostly by acoustic guitars and clean tone electric guitars, and the eerie clean vocals towards the beginning of “Burning Autumn Leaves” are fantastic too. Though you might infer from the songs titles and album cover that this album is best listened to in the fall, it has an atmosphere that works with any season. Fall might be the most ideal, but I’d still go out wandering while listening to this at other times of the year too. You should seriously try it.
You might be thinking, “Alright, there’s a lot of atmosphere here, so certainly there’s not much metal.” Thankfully, that’s not the case. DC has a great black metal shriek that is perfect for this style. The drumming is quite intense as well. Though the guitar work throughout a lot of the album is chords (sometimes tremolo), there are some seriously good riffs in there too. The main riff in “Revival of the Embers” is incredible and catchy. There are single note tremolo riffs here and there, and the one in the intro of “The Path Less Oft Tread” is a great example of one. Perhaps the best example of the metallic nature of this album is the shred-tastic guitar solo towards the end of “Burning Autumn Leaves”. Derek Corzine (Blood Thirsty, Whisper from Heaven) is the performer of that solo, and he really tears it up. A shredding guitar solo might sound out-of-place here in theory, but I think that it works really well. The album as a whole feels pretty dark (especially in “Burning Autumn Leaves”), and the menacing solo captures that feeling and amplifies it, creating what I see as the first climax of the album’s structure. The second climax is much more lighthearted, taking place towards the middle of “A Cleansing Prayer”, when the distorted guitars drop out, leaving just clean tones and ambience. The album’s structure as a whole feels very complete and does a great job of taking the listener on an adventure. Don’t listen to these songs in the wrong order; it won’t be the same.
Days Without Names is a true masterpiece of ambient black metal, and something on which you cannot miss out. It is an excellent album that will not be forgotten by our scene anytime soon.
Buy it from Metal Helm:
Check out Vision of God’s re-release of Seeking Refuge, currently available for pre-order:
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Also, look at Days Without Names’ album cover. It’s beautiful: