After Vanmakt released their debut EP Diaboli Lubeo, Para Vindicta in 2006, singer Gorgoth (a.k.a. Mattias Svensson) wasted no time in proclaiming Vanmakt to be the world’s greatest black metal band.1
They haven’t reached that lofty peak quite yet, and I suspect that Ihsahn might have a few thoughts to offer on that subject, but Vanmakt’s rapidly matured into a versatile and capable metal band who are uncommonly adept at interweaving diverse metal styles into the fabric of their black metal tapestry. Throughout Ab Luciferi Regnum, you’ll hear plenty of Viking, goth, and NWOBHM flourishes, all of which seamlessly fit into the overall work without detracting from Vanmakt’s black metal barrage.
Ab Luciferi Regnum offers plenty of cascading, wall-of-noise fury to get black metal fans salivating, and it’s made all the more enticing thanks to the technical prowess of guitarist Magnus Wohlfart. He’s adept both at laying down punishing riffs along with imaginative leads that place Vanmakt a cut above most of their competition. His blistering solo on Brethren of Lucifer is a particularly fine example of what he’s capable of when he cuts loose. If you’re more into raw power than virtuosity, though, Re-Incarnating Hatred and Id XIII Infernii will give you guitar onslaughts guaranteed to fill your blackened little heart with unholy glee. Leidheim provides the album’s fusillades of remorseless thunder behind the skins and he displays an uncommon degree of nuance. Leidheim introduces all sorts of tricky rolls and patterns within his blast beat framework, and when it’s time to dial down the tempo, he provides the songs with the measured power and finesse that’s demanded without sacrificing an iota of intensity. He’s credited as a session drummer, but I hope he ends up sticking around for a while.
Vanmakt are perfectly adept at delivering straight-on black metal; Written in Blood and Endless Myth should please any purist, though the layers of overdubs would probably have even Jimmy Page shaking his head at the level of overkill. They’re at their best when they take chances, though. Re-Incarnating Hatred has some fine avant chord progressions and The Ascension finds Vanmakt stalking the fringes of operatic metal and garnering intense and compelling music from it.
Vanmakt most often trip up when they play it safe and conservative. The Second Key and Beneath the Moor aren’t completely unlistenable, but they’re just too generic for their own damned good.
Fortunately, those tracks are the exception to the rule and Ad Luciferi Regnum is a bludgeoning thunderbeast of a record that should leave any black metal fan well satisfied. Vanmakt’s delivered a powerful, blistering release and served notice that there’s an incandescent new star in the Nordic metal firmament.