Reviewed: July, 2020
Released: 2020, Art Gates Records
Reviewer: Kat Knite
Velkhanos are a five piece band that combine melodic death metal and black metal to perfectly blend the brutality of an extreme genre with the emotion and passion of heavy metal. They formed in 2018 in Spain, and have released their debut album ‘The Wrath’ through Art Gates Records on June 26, 2020. The record focuses on religion, ancient deities, and the questions that can be posed around the concept of God. If you are looking for something new, unique, and musically interesting with a dark and old soul, I highly recommend ‘The Wrath’ by Velkhanos.
The album enters with ‘In Absentia Dei’, an intro that builds with symphonic elements, and ‘Bring Me The Fire’ follows to demonstrate the technical skill and songwriting talent of the band. With vocals ranging between guttural growls and soft clean melodies, Miriam Ortiz (who never tried guttural vocals before joining the band) is a force to be reckoned with. In ‘Black Omen’ we hear an operatic moment from her, after which she so easily seems to transition back into her low growl. While I personally love the melodic moments the most, her skills are entirely impressive, without lacking in emotion either. Overall the sound is really well-rounded, the deep choral vocals adding an extra ominous layer.
Two things that strike me strongly and emotionally are beautiful Spanish guitar lines, and melodic heavy metal. ‘Dagon’, a song about an ancient Mesopotamian deity, starts with a classical acoustic intro and I. am. hooked. Effortlessly, the electric riff comes in like a wave and the song is on fire! Velkhanos put their signature twists on ‘Dagon’, with brutal growls and heavy double-time to match, before a sweet breakdown and a Spanish guitar trill that brings me back to the soul of the sound.
As I move on to the title track, ‘The Wrath’, I hear a perfect display of how talented the members of Velkhanos are. Between the tightness of the rhythm section, the insane guitar shredding, and the death growls in the vocals, one can completely appreciate the immense talent and character in their art, even if either end of the spectrum between their blended genres isn’t quite your cup of tea. The Spanish influence here and through much of their music is mysterious and inspired, taking me to another world altogether.
Church-like choral vocals are prominent through the record, and on songs like ‘The Last Day’ and ‘The Eye of God’ I further understand Velkhanos’ flair for the dramatic and sometimes slightly creepy. There is so much intrigue on ‘The Eye of God’. Between the opening bells, deep male vocals that repeat through the melodic parts, and low-register guitar grooves and riffs, they know how to play with textures, tempos, patterns, and structures. One of my favourite layered moments on the album is on ‘Moloch’ at 1:27, when the song transitions into a heavy and moving rhythm topped with strings/synths, followed by another incredible guitar solo. Intoxicating!
‘Capricho Árabe’ brings us to the end. Beautiful, mysterious, and deep, I am overtaken by the power and energy here, so much of it strong and feminine. When the electric guitar comes in to match with the Spanish acoustic I so deeply adore, I am encapsulated and taken away. What a stunning end to ‘The Wrath’ as it comes full circle. Velkhanos have done a powerful and impressive job on their debut album, and I’m grateful to have shared in the listening experience.