Vukari - En To Pan (EP) (2014)

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It seems simple enough, doesn't it? A clouded, orange tinged moon behind a rock formation. It seems surreal, and yet so familiar. Much like the album that it graces, it feels like you've walked in on the perfect moment. Chicago's Vukari seem to have a knack for the big picture. Without ever once having read anything from, or spoken to any member of the band, you get the sense that all the pieces have to fit. It would be no surprise, then, when their distinct atmospheric tones wash over you early and often, but end far too soon. There are parallels to be found in both art and music, and they have paired the two together in a glorious way. Their new EP, titled En To Pan, sees black metal intensity come face to face with melodic ingenuity; and the results speak for themselves.

The haze that covers the intro to Din Of Consciousness isn't merely a mood setter, but it adds great depth as the track progresses. It takes a logical course from start to finish, but never falls victim to the predictability that modern black metal tends to fall to. You find a great deal of melodic sensibility throughout, thanks largely to the subtle guitar touches that permeate through the mix. Backed by a strong bass presence, the entire track is elevated by the clarity the band achieves in their recording. Far less forgiving, Riddled With Fear And Doubt forgoes most of the outward appearance of melody in favor of something far more straight forward. By no means is what they do hear lacking complexity, but rather than root themselves in delicate touches, they bring the hammer down on the drum kit, up the tempo, and create a much darker scene. You can almost feel the broken edges of vocalist Marek Cimochowicz's voice.

The talents, however, run deeper than black metal in various forms. Though short, Weightless does feel a lot like floating, through a beautiful soundscape of guitars and barely audible keys. It seems to mirror the image that represents the album in some way. After spending three tracks walking the entire spectrum, it seems only right that the final track, coincidentally the title track, brings all of the elements together in the most memorable way. Striking an incredible and often cumbersome balance, Vukari soar through more than eight minute of clashing and contrasting melodies and harsh vocal lines. Bassist Spenser Morris is the keystone of the track, his constant low end input holding together the rising and falling of the guitars and drums around him; he remains constant, and his work is far from basic. What results is a staggeringly emotional piece, particularly highlighted just after the five minute mark.

As good as this EP truly is - and that is incredibly good - you can walk away from it knowing one thing is true: Vukari are only going to continue to grow and get better. As scary a proposition as that is, it would be in your best interest to get used to the soaring heights this band is likely to achieve on future releases. En To Pan has no low points to hear or speak of, aside from the "never quite long enough" tag that a lot of great releases get saddled with. The melodies are strong, the vocals, ferocious, and the overall experience is one that is almost surprisingly smooth. They've found a home, somewhere in that atmospheric realm that suits them perfectly, and I suspect they won't be leaving it anytime soon. They've done themselves a great service here; when that last note fades, they left us all wanting more.


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