'Unholy Lightless Summer' - this album is Vardan's 31st, yes 31st, album. It supposedly draws influence from Ennio Morricone and Bernard Herrmann, but I'm not entirely sure that's accurate. And, it's apparently his most commercial release. Don't worry, this is not going to be bothering the charts any time soon.
Much of that is down to Vardan's choice of vocal style. Black Metal has a tendency to put off your common or garden metal fan due to its Popeye style vocals (no disrespect, I actually like it). Vardan takes this artistic choice to the next level by making it even more comical; the vocals are best described as an afterthought, the sound of a dying dog trying to mimic human speech inside a cave. That's honestly the best analogy I could come up with. Musically, things are much better. Everything moves at a snail's pace and is quite melodic and bright; it's mood music. The production apes Filosofem a little but isn't quite so fuzzy. If this were an instrumental, I'd be pretty impressed. Except for the length of the damn thing. Opening track 'Unholy Lightless Summer 1' (this seems to be typical of Vardan's song naming system if his releases on Spotify are anything to go by) is a brisk seven and a half minutes long. 'Unholy Lightless Summer 2' clocks at twenty-two minutes, while closer 'Unholy Lightless Summer 3' nudges ten minutes. They just don't progress or hold the attention enough to warrant that. And, because the vocals are bonkers and unintelligible, my attention soon wandered.
Vardan apparently release four or five albums each year. That's both remarkable and ridiculous. If Vardan employed a vocalist and worked on editing his vast outpourings into more concise pieces (and maybe only a couple of albums a year) I'm sure it would be something very special indeed. As it is, this is a very frustrating listen. Much of it is brilliant, but it needs to be reined in.
UNHOLY LIGHTLESS SUMMER
Review by Steve Cowan
10th August 2018
1) Unholy Lighless Summer Pt.1
2) Unholy Lighless Summer Pt.2
3) Unholy Lighless Summer Pt.3
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the vocals are best described as an afterthought, the sound of a dying dog trying to mimic human speech inside a cave."