1. The Cypher Supreme
4. Ad Rigorem
5. Tentacles Of The Sun
6. Elemental Shift
7. I: A New Journey Awaits
8. II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension and Trespassing
Loud things that are banned in Switzerland, 1) loud sports cars and 2) bazooka’s (Disclaimer: that may not be entirely accurate). One thing that the Swiss can't ban seems to be metal, even though before writing this I couldn't name many bands from the country. Virvum will be new to many people but they've well and truly sprung into life recently with their debut album, "Illuminance". Self-released little over a month ago, they've been getting plenty of press plaudits and picking up new fans left, right and center. Prior to the release of this album, they only had one song in which to draw listeners in and they've been a band for almost decade, so they’ve clearly preferred to take their time and hone their skills.
Virvum plays tech/prog death metal, so are the perfect antidote to the realisation that there’s still four more working days to go this week! What a way to do it as well, with the incomprehensibly good opener The Cypher Supreme, with it’s virtuoso percussion, bass and awesome guitar work. Earthwork is where the real death metal begins to take over. In the midst of off-kilter mayhem and weird twinkly passages, Virvum’s breakdowns and low-growls remind you what they’re about. Just trying to type fast enough to keep up with them is nigh on impossible. The title-track opens with a thoughtfully atmospheric introduction, leading to a song that actually holds a lot of old-school influence and charm. Beneath the modern technical exterior, Virvum hasn’t forgotten who and what brought them here. The latter half of the song takes further advantage of their penchant for atmosphere and sounds mighty. They hit the overdrive button during Ad Rigorem, yet they manage to keep it catchy and that’s no mean feat. The dual-high/low growls in Tentacles Of The Sun hint at a band that aren’t just preoccupied with death metal and the jazz/blues rhythm section and guitar later on only adds to that. This is definitely worth getting lost in. Next up are two shorter numbers, starting with Elemental Shift, which is just pure wizardry while I: A New Journey Awaits acts as a rousing precursor to the mammoth conclusion of “Illuminance”. That conclusion comes in the form of II: A Final Warming Shine: Ascension and Trespassing. At 10+ minutes it’s mammoth in more ways than one, but it distills Virvum’s craziness and articulate musicianship into something that prog-freaks and headbangers can all appreciate. Borrowing what sounds like the melody and riffs from album opener The Cypher Supreme, they complete the journey in a quite bewildering way. This is the only song to feature clean singing too and it adds something that’s been missing in my opinion. For a writer who’s had the pleasure of reviewing records by Pyrrhon, Okazaki Fragments and Cerebric Turmoil (to name but a few) within the last year or so, I can now add Virvum to my list of truly exciting death metal bands. The old-school will forever be present but the new-school is leading the way in technical terms and that’s not going to stop anytime soon.
You can stream "Illuminance" below via Virvum's bandcamp page, where it's also available to buy digitally and on cd:-
Virvum Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/virvum