VUYVR is a relatively new Black Metal band from Switzerland, the present record Eiskalt the band’s debut. Being aware of the country’s pertinence in the genre of Black Metal – with Samael being one of Central Europe’s first bands of the second wave and Hellhammer/Celtic Frost ranking among the originators – it’s hardly surprising one might expect quite a bit from a band of this origin.
The name VUYVR refers to the French term vouivre (from Old Northern French wivre, from Latin vīpera) and describes a special kind of heraldic dragon (wyvern), which has no hind legs but a serpent’s tail. In sagas and myths around the world dragons play an important role. In Eastern Asia the dragon is usually identified with features like luck, power and fertility, as opposed to Europe and the Middle East, where dragons are often associated with chaos and destruction, yet still are also a symbol for power and might. Celtic myths about the wyvern mostly link the dragon to water, which is also a very common, worldwide known coherence – and the reason why there’s also water to be seen in the cover art for Eiskalt.
The artwork was created by Richey Beckett, an Welsh artist who also worked for bands like Sick Of It All, Trash Talk or Victims amongst lots of others and is able to work in a very detailed and multilayered manner. The cover artwork of Eiskalt reveals this very impressively, as you can see in the pictures of the record below. The mountainscape with its ever-flowing streams, dark forests and dreadful fog, situated in a moonlit night seems to be peaceful and threatening at the same time. If you’ve ever walked through such a setting you’ll easily recognize the atmosphere captured in the artwork. Of course all the elements inscribed in the picture can be found in almost every pagan, nature-related tradition there is. Living in a country that’s strongly associated with mountains and also its Celtic roots, the choice of the artwork’s subject is an obvious one, especially considering Black Metal’s strong ties to nature, paganism and nocturnal occurrences.
In name and art VUYVR clearly exists in the dark realm of Black Metal and also in musical dimensions the four-piece refers distinctly to this genre, albeit more to the Scandinavian bands of the Second Wave than to their Swiss precursors. Most of the tracks maintain a ghastly speed impelled by remorseless blast beats, which back the sharp and harsh riffs. These show often a subtle sense for melodies, whilst keeping a very icy and direct front towards the listener. By doing so, VUYVR is evocative to bands like the early Immortal or Craft in their speedier moments. But the band is able to create atmosphere not only by violent speeds but also in calmer, more melodic and layered ways. Dead Trees Are Wandering At Night is the prime example for this: VUYVR leans heavily towards Post Rock with this track, but manages to keep the same harsh feeling as in the uptempo songs of Eiskalt.
The lyrics are mostly performed English, except the opening track Hoch, which is sung in German. There’s no information to be found about what the lyrics actually are, but titles like Betrayers of the North, War of 100.000 Centuries or The Wyvern imply that VUYVR don’t stray too far away from lyrical concepts usually linked to Black Metal, e.g. war, hatred, fear, pagan myths and so forth.
Eiskalt by VUYVR was recorded live, which manifests itself in a very direct, unfiltered and dry sound. The drums and vocals are quite foregrounded; due to this the guitars lack a bit of assertiveness. On the other hand this fact makes Eiskalt‘s sound very unique and adds a good dose of rawness without getting sloppy.
All in all VUYVR‘s Eiskalt is a really refreshing approach towards Black Metal, despite all the band’s references towards the unwritten laws and traditions existing within. Instead of running after the current trends a.k.a. “Cascadian” Black Metal or anything with the prefixed syllable “Post-“, VUYVR take a lot of inspiration from the aggressive outbursts of their Scandinavian predecessors and transform it into a very coherent, distinct album that is known as Eiskalt.