Album: Divine Cessation
Label: Bloody Mountain Records
Genre: Black/Death Metal
Release Date: 1 December, 2017
Here’s a little about how I arrive at that number rating for an album below. It’s not rocket science or some weird formula, it’s mostly by feel and what the record does for me, personally. I do try and take into account what others might think but in the end, I’m the one doing the listening and writing, so you’re mostly getting my reaction.
If an album can string together a collection of songs that are, you know, actual songs and actually work as songs, you’re gonna get a base 5 rating right out the gate. Because hey, no matter how many critics like to pretend it’s easy, it ain’t easy to write a song, much less five or more, and make them work. So you’re halfway there, in my book.
Any rating above that gets a point because of several factors: great playing/technique will get you another one, doing something new or putting a spin on a genre will get you another one, but to get all the way to a 9 or 10, you better do something pretty exceptional.
Which, in my long-winded way, brings us to the album by Valdur, Divine Cessation. Let me state right away that this is a solid 7, so before I delve into more specifics, know that it’s a cut above a lot of records available out there.
Here’s the thing, though, it doesn’t move me. Is it brutal? Yes. Is it heavy? Yes. Is the playing good to great? Yes. But the songs aren’t memorable and what they do, while more than competent, doesn’t feel particularly striking. This is an unremarkable record, but one I can’t bag on because hey, they’re pretty good. It just doesn’t do it for me.
The objective of Valdur, I believe, is to set things right. They believe in the brutality of the mix of Black and Death Metal, and they feel like maybe too many other bands are straying from the roots. Valdur does not stray. They stay on the straight and narrow, and they thrash it out with abandon. You can’t question their street cred, these guys are like Motorhead in the sense that they keep it real and you know what you’re going to get. This is heavy, the guitars crunching and shredding, the bass laying down a solid foundation, and the drums rapid and powerful, with lots of cool cymbal work. The vocals are low and dirty and mean and do exactly what you’d want from a band like this. I truly believe that the band is proud of their work here, and they should be. They spit out a consistent, foaming bile of Blackened Death that would send a lot of bands running. Their pride is well-founded and deserved: they’ve done what they set out to do.
For me, though, it doesn’t do a lot. It has simply gone in one ear and out the other. Nothing here sets it apart from most of the middle of the pack bands, except for that tenacious drive, and the talent on display. That’s why it’s getting a better rating than you might think, given how negative this review appears. And I don’t want to be negative, I want to explain simply why it isn’t remarkable, or worthy of an 8 or better in my eyes. For some of you out there, you’ll eat this up and ask for a second and third helping and, when you’ve drowned yourself in this merciless assault, you’ll maybe think about what I’ve written here and roll your eyes. And that’s okay, to each their own.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Valdur do in the future. I think they could expand a bit, add some nuance to the brutality, stretch it out a little, put in some spaces here and there, and make something different but still vital to their core beliefs (see what they do about five minutes into closer, “Potent Black Orb,” as an example of what I mean). However, if they stick to their guns and do more music like this, there is no shame there at all. I can guarantee you one thing: these guys are good, and they won’t ever put out a bad record. Solid, heavy, brutal, intense, but just not varied enough to reach the next level. Yet.
1. Breath of the Beast
2. Divine Cessation
3. The Tail
4. Seething Disgust
6. Plague Born of a Dying Star
7. Potent Black Orb
Total Playing Time: 40:49