Dark Waters might sound near-orchestral, but this latest album from vvilderness is in fact the product of just one person. The artist known only as vvildr is behind everything you hear: the guitars, the writing, the production, and the vocals – and also the rather lovely cover art. The only deviation comes during the opening track, “Dark Waters”, which features guest vocals from a female singer named Kazumi. It’s a fascinating insight, and almost defies the perception that this is all essentially a solo project. The scope and diversity found within its six tracks suggests that there is almost too much creativity for a single person to take responsibility for. Apparently not!
Six tracks and then we’re done, but similar to my previous point, there is so much going on in that timeframe that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve dosed on a much larger quantity. Dark Waters is a full body of work, moving up and down, back and forth across the annuals of emotive black metal. There is talent, charisma, and enough memorable moments to make this a solid player in the archives of early 2020’s metal. The album’s replay value is unquestionable.
vvilderness‘s unwavering substance hits you right from the outset, as title track “Dark Waters” is about as thrilling an opening as one could hope for, and not just because of those sublime vocals. The instrumentation is also superb, creating a seamless transition from mellow to heavy. Those elements of melodic mystique continue in the second track, “Danu’s Tears”, where the black metal nuances run rife with emotion. These components are then clarified in third track “Mist Pillars ’19”. By this time, you get ample assurance that the elegant progressive elements are never far from the metallic rasps. The record’s intent, it seems, is to take you on a journey and provide all the relevant and interwoven feelings along the way.
Halfway in, and listeners will also be pleased to learn that the emotive substance of Dark Waters does not let up at any point. The album takes a turn for the darker in “It Comes with the Rain”, but then adopts a triumphant prose in the decidedly epic “Havasok / Snowy Mountains”. Equipped with some nifty wind instruments, this track is an all-out spectacle and another showcase of talent. It blends almost seamlessly into closing track, “Wilderness”, which is an ambient and sombre send-off, as well as a reminder that vvilderness is capable of tapping into a wealth of styles and influences in order to create the right kind of mood.
There are no bad words to be said about this one. vvilderness is a masterful project and Dark Waters its testimony. It is a bright, colossal, and outright magical piece of work that cannot and should not be overlooked. To learn that it is all the creation of one person is the mere icing on the cake, but in any case, the record’s breadth and charisma speaks wholly for itself. Dark Waters is an intense ride that should appeal to a swathe of listeners, but in simple terms, it’s just excellent music. Let’s hope to hear more in the not-too-distant future.