VARUNA — The Epical Trilogy of Vorlaufen I: Night Master (review)

VARUNA — The Epical Trilogy of Vorlaufen I: Night Master album cover Album · 2007 · Symphonic Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
China in the year 2020 still has the largest population of any nation on planet Earth with an estimated 1.4 billion inhabitants. Yes! That’s billion with a B! Roughly 1/7 or so of all of humanity. However despite such a lofty mass of humans nestled into one crowded region of East Asia, China has not been the most prolific importer of some of the more extreme forms of Western music such as black metal. Sure there have been a handful of artists including Holyarrow, Vengeful Spectre, Black Kirin, Zuriaake, Be Persecuted, Black Reaper and Dopamine but in proportion to the population of the nation, this style of music is still a completely unknown concept to the masses. But of course there are always a few adventurous souls who look abroad for contemporary inspiration and this band VARUNA which originated in Xian and now resides in Beijing is one of them.

This duo that consists of Bloodfire and Deadsphere escaped the cultural baggage and looked westward for some of the darker sounds of music and settled on the melodic yet jarring elements of symphonic black metal. While VARUNA was formed as far back as the year 2000, no music was released until 2007 when the self-titled demo was released along with the band’s sole album THE EPICAL TRILOGY OF VORLAUFEN I: NIGHT MASTER which found a home on one of China’s only metal music labels Dying Art Productions. The band’s name comes from the Vedic religion where VARUNA is a god of the sky, of rain and of the celestial ocean as well as a god of law and of the underworld. Cool! As evidenced from the title, despite the Eastern religious undertones, VARUNA performs in the English language and targets an international audience with an album that one would never guess fro a second emerged from the land of Bruce Lee, Chairman Mao and Confucius . THE EPICAL TRILOGY OF VORLAUFEN I: NIGHT MASTER has a running time of 45:30 and features seven tracks, two of which are instrumental but all soaked in symphonic atmospheres accompanied by unorthodox metal styles featured with black metal elements such as raspy vocals, distorted guitar riffing and frenetic outbursts of raging metal madness. The album feels epic despite its brevity and runs the gamut of extreme metal rampaging to synth fueled almost downtempo segments. What’s not very black metal about this album is how the metal is presented. Despite the black metal clothing so to speak, the guitar riffs range from militant industrial stomps to soaring guitar parts that wouldn’t sound out of place on a neo-prog album from IQ or Arena. The keyboards are ubiquitous with none of the tracks leaving them behind yet the metal aspects while very much the emphasis of the album do drop out and let the ambient atmospheres brew up a storm before the rampage begins as heard on the opening “Intro:supreme” which feels like an soundtrack to an epic sci-fi adventure.

When the second track “Unseen World” begins it showcases the general theme of the album, namely open with an mood setting keyboard movement and then add the chugging metal riffs that sound like everything except classic second wave black metal. In fact when the vocals deviate from the raspiness, this doesn’t sound like black metal at all much of the time but once the blastbeats and traditional moments do occur then there’s little doubt that Norwegian bands like Darkthrone and Immortal weren’t primary influences. Whether China continues to adopt these extreme sounds of the Western nations or not is anybody’s guess but in the case of VARUNA, this is fairly decent example of looking elsewhere for your inspiration and doing a damned good job of pulling off an album that is engaging. While i find this album excellent, it’s on the lesser end of that excellence scale. Despite the perfect production that allows the ambient elements to really shine, some of the ambient stuff sounds a bit cheesy at times but this is rare. Still a really great album considering this came from the middle of China!
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