Michigan’s Eihwaz Recordings (a sub-label of the more well known Bindrune Recordings) is steadily building an international roster of dynamically interesting artists. Lyrical themes vary with nods to nature, the meaning of death, and so on, but all of the bands on the roster capture a feeling evocative of the artists’ cultural and natural environments.
The characterization easily applies to just about every band on the Bindrune roster, but is also true of Eihwaz. Recent albums issued by the label have been quite good with the latest album from Vex, Sky Exile, being a standout example. A recent signing to the label is Chicago’s Vukari, a quartet playing a style of black metal similar to bands such as Wolves In The Throne Room and Seidr.
Divination is Vukari’s second full-length album (and first for Eihwaz), and is an excellent blend of harsh black metal, muted hints of melody, and a primeval atmosphere. The recording has a low-fi feel, yet is still rich, with buzzing guitars with a muted tone. The pace is generally fast with blastbeats, and the vocals are a harsh rasp. Dig deeper, and you’ll find plenty of pleasing melodies with softer moments of acoustic guitars, keyboard harmonics and loads of atmosphere.
The overall feel of the recording is dreamlike, almost as if the listener becomes enveloped by nature in a primeval forest somewhere in the Cascades (as opposed to the gritty streets of Chicago). Themes that are centered on nature are common on Bindrune/ Eihwaz, and Vukari manage to evoke these feelings even though Divination is a fictional concept album about the ascendancy of a political figure in Ancient Rome.
Songs vary in length with a few quiet interludes running for a couple of minutes, to a few sprawling epics with the album closer, “Battle In The Divine Light,” clocking in at nearly eleven minutes.
Vukari are treading well worn ground on Divination and are not particularly original, but their efforts have resulted in a warm listening experience that is sure to please fans of this particular subgenre of black metal.
(released August 5, 2016 on Eihwaz Recordings)