Released: 2012, Limb Records
I’m a little behind on reviewing this album as it came out in late 2012 and I’m writing this in early 2014. I was extremely impressed by the debut album of Vexillum and I’m glad they made it to album #2. The band got picked up by Limb Records which is a perfect fit for these guys.
Since the debut the band switched out drummers but pretty much everything else stayed the same. I like the medieval looking album cover and the title is a bit odd, bivouac meaning, ‘an improvised camp used in scouting’, which explains the image on the album cover as well. I really like how Vexillum uses earthy lyrics and themes and not necessarily resorting to high fantasy concepts as many Italian Power Metal bands tend to do. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good dungeons and dragons story as much as the next fan but Vexillum have a more earthy, realistic lyrics. They remind me of Falconer and Wuthering Heights in that respect. How many Metal bands would name their album ‘campsite’? Vexillum can pull it off.
As with the debut, the quintet play a speedy form of folk Metal. The album is loaded with sound effects and there are lots of good folk melodies and extra instruments like fiddles, horns and lutes. The vocals of Dario are still a strong point for the band as his distinct, battle-worn voice weaves tales of non-adventure. Maxi Nil (ex-Visions Of Atlantis) adds some nice female vocals to the cut, ‘The Oak And The Lady Flame’. The dozen songs are mostly fast and the record is a good value at 67 minutes long. Many of the songs have a bouncy feel and big gang vocals on the choruses which make it a very infectious album, easy to sing along to! THE BIVUOAC is a Metal album first and foremost with lots and lots of guitars ripping along accentuated by the folk elements. Coming back to the sound-effects for a moment, these little extras really help to immerse the listener in the experience, helping activate the imagination as the music takes you away to a different time, a different world.
The band has a lot going for them. They toured with Rhapsody, they have a supportive record label and a new, third album coming in 2014. Vexillum are rapidly becoming Italy’s #1 Power/folk Metal band. If you listen to THE BIVUOAC you will understand why.