This is going to be a slightly different review as I am going to be reviewing two releases at once however the tracks are part of a series from group Advent Varic. Both tracks were released in 2019. Advent Varic is a group from Boston that plays a style of music they dub, blackened stoner and although I loathe taking any band’s description of their music at face value, this tag is a pretty accurate description.
Generally, when combining the black metal and stoner/doom genres the result usually entails traditional doom instrumentals with more aggressive, raspy vocals (like Remote or Dopethrone) or occasionally a more bleak and morbid sound which can best be described as “really slow” black metal (Thou). Advent Varic brings a unique twist to this formula. The music has more in common with black metal than doom metal on the whole but introduces a psychedelic effect that is not an uncommon form of black metal to find around these days. Acts such as Oranssi Pazuzu spring to mind but more because of the texture than the writing style. Part I and II of Tumulus are twenty-minute and fifteen-minute long tracks, respectively, so despite what I just said this already puts us in a doom metal state of mind (that would be a lovely adaption of the classic “Georgia On My Mind” wouldn’t it?). The music switches effortlessly from psychedelic black metal textures to post-hardcore and hardcore elements (even occasional hints at a post-rock sound) that give the music some ‘oomph’. The general atmosphere of the band puts me into an artist’s nightmare, like being thrust into a Bosch painting where you find yourself being devoured by a deformed bird-like creature (the Prince of Hell) adorned in a cast iron pot. The music is the soundscape to catastrophe; gloom, an ever-present and sobering effect.
The musical form itself is progressive. The parts come and go before you get time to appreciate them properly and that is the mark of truly progressive music. That being said none of the musicality on the album feels brashly virtuosic. That is not to say the musicians are not proficient in their instruments but the playing seems to serve the mood more than some antiquated idea of musical showmanship. The music has a cavernous texture that infers a sense of space both figuratively and literally. The band claims to hail from Planet Tumulus, but in this case, the backstory serves to be a lot less comical than that of say GWAR. Other than that it is hard to glean much backstory about the band’s fictitious past. The lyrics are cryptic and slightly repetitive, adding to the trance-like nature of the music. Part I seems to focus on a first-person perspective embodying the thoughts of what seems to be a prisoner intertwined with appropriately introspective, destructive, violent and dark imagery with hints at some sort of vengeance about to take place. From what I can decipher of Part II the lyrics allude to a destructive god that seeks to destroy the planet Tumulus, or at least is aware of its impending doom. I’m a sucker for fantasy/sci-fi backstories and this really does it for me. I actually even enjoy the fact that the backstory is quite cryptic, allowing you to draw your own conclusions as to the details of the story. I would love to see a Coheed and Cambria-style comic to go along with this story but that also might ruin its mystery.
It is hard to say why I find this release compelling. It does not feel entirely new or unique but texturally the music washes over you in such a pleasant manner it is hard to dislike it. The artwork is quite bland and initially, the music feels like it is something you have heard a million times before but it’s progressive nature elevates my enjoyment of it. The slowly trudging, brooding quality combined with sci-fi themes and production gives this album a slightly unique spin in a musical landscape dominated by cookie-cutter projects. Check this one out.