Heavy metal has reached an apex in more ways than one as the 2010s prepare to wind down to a close. The genre is being defined by new, crossover talent from all parts of the globe, and it’s in this spirit that Ukraine’s popular band Vovkulaka is releasing a four-track, teaser to their upcoming full length cd to be released in early 2020. Built on a foundation of experimental metal themes and rebellious punk attitude, Vovkulaka’s new record is an adventure in extreme music not completely revolutionary but at once entirely different than what its aesthetical predecessors had produced just a short time ago.
Take “Purple Door” for example. Here, vocals are used as a means of advancing an instrumental harmony’s brutish punch, and even in its more melodic moments, a vicious bassline is never far from view. It owes as much to the gloominess of doom metal as it does the bleached overdrive of black metal, stadium-shaking groove of power metal and gritty finish of industrial rock (which isn’t a common cocktail nowadays). The same can be said for “Darkness Calling” and “My Devil” as well, which both exhibit the sort of com-positional efficiency that I’d usually hear in top-tier pop music exclusively.
I’m not often afforded the chance to say this, but there really aren’t any frills to be picked through in Vovkulaka’s advance teaser EP. “Defy” is indebted to the punk rock aesthetic in terms of its structural integrity, while even more indulgent numbers like “Purple Door” and “My Devil” never devolve into bloated breakdowns that last just a little longer than they should. For this band, it’s all about the sexually-charged thrust of the drums, the assaultive nature of the guitars, and most of all, the emotive growls of our vocalist, who sings like a wild animal that has just come uncaged in every track here.
The bass isn’t nearly as aggressive as I had expected it to be in this record, and in “Defy” and “Darkness Calling,” it’s actually rather minimalistic compared to the tandem attack of the guitar and vocals. Vovkulaka seem like a group that doesn’t want to play by anyone’s rules – their own scene’s included – and considering the uniqueness of their sound on the world stage, it’s probably not a big stretch to assume that this upcomimg cd release is going to do just as well in the United States as it will in their native Ukraine and the European metal circuit in general.
As one of a kind as they come, Vovkulaka (who are often referred to simply as “VovK”) are a metal band that every heavy music addict needs to be listening to right now. A new decade is about to come into focus in just a matter of weeks, and of all the metallic records that I’ve had the chance to blast in the lead-up to 2019’s conclusion, this is the one I’ve found myself the most attracted to. Bravo!
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