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Valerinne - Ver Sacrum review

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Band: Valerinne
Album: Ver Sacrum
Style: Post-rock
Release date: March 2024

01. Frostlys
02. Hibernalia
03. Seelenglaube
04. Cataegis
05. In Flore Pleno

"For winter's rains and ruins are over, and all the season of snows and sins;
The days dividing lover, the light that loses, the night that wins;
And time remembered is grief forgotten, and frosts are slain and flowers begotten, and in green underwood and cover blossom by blossom the spring begins".

That introduction is the poem Atlanta In Calydon written by Algernon Charles Swinburne, which served as inspiration for Valerinne's fifth and latest full-length release, Ver SacrumValerinne are a Romanian post-rock band established by the trio Alexandru Das (guitar/synths), Liviu Stoicescu (bass/synths), and Mircea Smarandache (drums) back in 2012. Since their full-length debut Kunstformen Der Natur, the band have performed a style that's been described as emotional, dark and anarchic instrumental post-rock, with droning and dystopian sounds, and extensive layering aiming to transcend expressions of feeling to encapsulate the essence of life itself. The band aim to captivate listeners with immersive atmospheric soundscapes, which are usually complemented by wonderful production, and these soundscapes translate very well during live performances.

Valerinne's latest offering, Ver Sacrum, is self-described as the band's 'heaviest release yet'. The album draws its title from the ancient rites of spring, ideal for the renewal season that's upon many of us now, offering rebirth and optimism amidst the chaotic contemporary world we find ourselves living in. As mentioned, the album is thematically inspired by Swinburne's poetry, and reflects on the nature of seasons acting as a metaphor for life and Light's triumph over past dark shadows.

To capture these emotions, Valerinne craft vast soundscapes; 4 out of the 5 tracks clock in at over 12 minutes in length, resulting in a total album duration of just shy of an hour. Although such runtimes are typical for the band, they also pose the risk of leading to staleness or repetitiveness before album end; maintaing a high level of concentration is key if you're planning on listening through the album in one sitting. The first song to try and inspire this concentration is "Frostlys", which starts off with a soft, tranquil synth passage before erupting into crushingly heavy instrumentation. The opening minutes of the track demonstrate Valerinne's dense layering, from reverb-heavy post-metal riffs, semi-complex drumming patterns, and powerful bass lines. The song grows all the heavier and more complex as it progresses, particularly when synths come into play after the midway point to turn the soundscapes more dense and dramatic.

"Hibernalia" follows, this time taking a slightly different approach, relying more on soft instrumentation and synths with an essence of shoegaze, alongside heavier riff sections carried by a rhythm section that sustains a quite hypnotic vibe throughout. Coming afterwards, "Seelenglaube" is an unusual track (and a rather forgetful one if you ask me); it's the shortest track at just over 7 minutes, but you'll definitely need to have the right temperament for its slow (arguably even too slow) acoustic build-up and lengthy pauses, which are far too intolerable for my liking.

Luckily, "Cataegis" offers a return to form, featuring a much heavier, more upbeat, and varied approach. However, following its crushing midsection, there isn't really much else worth taking note of, and anyone hoping for a grand finale to Ver Sacrum could be in for disappointment, as final track "In Flore Pleno" is a far cry from what one might consider a grand closer. The lengthiest song here at just shy of 14 minutes, it features too many sections that have a tendency to needlessly plod, ultimately building to nothing memorable.

Valerinne leave a slightly underwhelming impression with this ending to an album that I believe felt like it had real potential in its earlier stages. Although the Valerinne trio have proven to be more than quality musicians from previous efforts, Ver Sacrum just seems to fall short of that expected quality; the songwriting doesn't quite inspire the level of engagement expected from a band of this calibre, and to top it off, most listeners may also struggle to concentrate with the sheer amount of reverb present in the riff department, which almost feels neverending.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Production: 6

Written on 07.04.2024 by Feel free to share your views.


Comments: 1   Visited by: 8 users
03.05.2024 - 22:08
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Man that's the deep and awesome phlosopic poem.... Damn great.
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