2023 will see the release of the new Vargrav album, baptized ‘The Nighthold’. This third album follows the critically acclaimed debut album ‘Netherstorm’ from 2018 and ‘Reign in Supreme Darkness’ from 2019. Since those albums were released, the Finnish act has been expanded from a one-man project led by v-Khaoz (amongst others also of Druadan Forest, Grieve and Sorgetid) to a full band. In 2020 Graf Werwolf von Armaggedon (Satanic Warmaster, Grieve and many more) joined the band on vocals and before the recording of the third album, drummer Baron M. Tarwonen (Barren Earth, Moonsorrow and Thy Serpent to name a few) and Grunt Trollhorn (Moonsorrow, Finntroll, ex-Barathrum etc.) on guitar and bass were recruited to complete the band. As a preview for what’s to come of the latest album, Werewolf Records releases ‘Encircle the Spectral Dimension’.
On this CD Maxi-single we find the title track that will also appear on ‘The Nighthold’. This new song titled ‘Encircle the Spectral Dimension’ follows perfectly on the body of work released thus far, in other words, Symphonic Black Metal in the vein of the oldest Emperor albums. Compared to the material on the the previous albums, ‘Encircle the Spectral Dimension’ is one of the fiercer and more in your face tracks, with a heavier guitar tone than before. Musically it is best comparable to ‘In Streams from Great Mysteries’ from the preceding album, an altogether heavier and more uptempo track that still has those excellently placed symphonic and cosmic keyboard soundscapes that culminate in a beautiful ode to the Nightsky. By now Vargrav has perfectly found their own little niche, and on this preview track they once again show that all the attention around the band is fully justified. The most obvious change in the vocal department is one that feels fully logical, as Werwolf’s performance seems to be exactly what the band needed to take things a step further.
Besides the new track, we find three more songs on this CD single which is also available for purchase digitally from Hells Headbangers. Two tracks were previously released as a bonus 7” EP that came with the vinyl edition of ‘Netherstorm’. These consist of an early version of ‘The Glory of Eternal Night’ which eventually also found its way in a different form on ‘Reign in Supreme Darkness’. And that the inclusion of an Emperor cover in the shape of ‘Ancient Queen’ is something Vargrav can perfectly pull off should be obvious by now. The Maxi-Single is rounded off by a live version of ‘Netherstorm’ which was performed in 2019 at the band’s debut performance which took place at the Steelfest festival in Finland. As if a new song wasn’t incentive enough, these previously unreleased or vinyl-exclusive rarities surely makes the CD version a very interesting release to own.
Based on the previous two albums anticipation was already high for a new Vargrav album, and ‘Encircle the Spectral Dimension’ sounds as if it may even raise those expectations. It certainly is a great teaser for the incoming ‘The Nighthold’, which likely sees its release in 2023. I can’t wait to hear what that has in store for us.