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Every so often I like to take to Wikipedia to see what a band's name might mean. It more than often educates me a little about other culture's history and/or mythology. I get an insight into a band's lyrical focus and develop a better understanding of their music as a result. Valdrin, however, appears to be either a professional footballer or a kickboxer. Their press release, however, gives us a nugget of information as the lyrical themes are apparently based on a concept called the Ausadjur Mythos; Wikipedia knows not of such a thing. Valdrin, the press release continues, is the name of our protagonist "Valdrin Ausadjur". I'm still none the wiser, but it at least sounds more intellectual than I first thought. That image is slightly shattered by a photo of the band looking like a Dungeons and Dragons 'dress like Kerry King circa 1984' contest (nice Annihilator shirt, though). 'Two Carrion Talismans' - magical chunks of decaying meat? - is the band's second album.

'Junnatox' sets the scene for this medieval swords and sorcery tale of magic warriors with the sound of distant battle drums, followed swiftly by churning metallic riffs and black metal-esque vocals. Fantasy isn't really my thing, but I found myself getting into the story despite my reservations (although the lyrics can be a little bit 'fan fiction'). Musically, it's a mash up of 90s Pestilence, Nocturnus (guitar synths, rather than keyboards), and Immortal. It's a potent blend, and the execution is impeccable. The production can get a bit claustrophobic at times, with so many instruments fighting for sonic space, and oodles of compression. It's not unbearable, but it does rob the music of some dynamics. 'Funeral Tides of Orcus' does slightly outstay its welcome with little progression. 'Vesper in the Animus Lair' is possibly my favourite song; riffs snake in a very Morbid Angel fashion, and all the instruments seem where they should be in the mix (especially the bass). Things get very adventurous on 'Crimson Blades Ausadjur', with the addition of acoustic guitars and different keyboard sounds. It's the only moment on the album where I felt the music matched the aim of the narrative. While everything else is well played and the songs are mostly well written, the music largely failed to give a sense of awe that the story perhaps promised (you could, of course, level the same criticism at Immortal with their Blashyrkh mythology). The whole thing ends with 'Awaiting in the Spirit Genome' (!?), which is entirely synthesized. It seems fitting to the tale that such a piece closes the album out, but it's equally disposable.

Regardless, this is a confident album. The band are clearly committed to telling their story on their own terms, in a way that defies criticism to some degree. Existing fans will welcome this next chapter in what I trust will be an ongoing story, and the band's reluctance to go all Bal Sagoth on us (at least not yet) means that casual extreme metal fans shouldn't be put off by any extraneous nonsense.
Blood Harvest
Review by Steve Cowan
28th Sept 2018
1) Junnatox
2) Nex - The Barren Sculptor
3) Sinews of Blood and Vein
4) Funeral Tides of Orcus
5) Tempest Torn Asunder
6) Vesper in the Animus Lair
7) Crimson Blades Ausadjur
8) Awaiting in the Spirit Genome...
"Musically, it's a mash up of 90s Pestilence, Nocturnus (guitar synths, rather than keyboards), and Immortal. It's a potent blend, and the execution is impeccable."