Review & Full Album Stream: V, Led into Exile

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on September 10th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

v led into exile

[Click play above to stream V’s Led into Exile in full. Album is out Sept. 13 on Suicide Records and the band will have shows in Sweden on Sept. 29 with Horndal and Jorm and Nov. 7 with Dopelord and Zaum. Info here.]

Based in the Swedish county of Dalarna, which includes towns like Borlänge, Na?s and Falun and borders against Norway in the west, four-piece outfit V offer a fair bit of stylistic nuance amid outwardly crushing sonics. The band began presumably in much different form some 25 years ago, but Led into Exile is their second full-length for Suicide Records behind 2017’s Pathogenesis (discussed here) and a 2016 EP, VI — I’d assume that’s ‘V-1’ rather than just ‘six’ in Roman numerals — that was recorded in 2006 and released in late 2016. With guitarist/vocalist/synthesist/recording engineer Andreas Baier having been involved in a number of projects over the years, from Afgrund to the currently-running Besvärjelsen, one assumes V‘s longer tenure includes a fair amount of time not really active, but with guitarist Jonas Gryth, bassist/vibraphonist Marcus Lindqvist and drummer Daniel Liljekvist alongside Baier, V tap into a post-heavy amalgam of atmospheres on the six tracks of the Led into Exile LP, dividing into two sides and playing toward European-style post-metal — Amenra more than Cult of Luna, to be sure — with shades of hardcore and yet more extreme doomed fare laced throughout.

With fervent crash and lumber, V‘s songs work in linear fashion to squeeze the air from your lungs as only their kind of rhythmic churn can, crafting a tension that’s affecting in mood and ambience. Beginning with “Broadcast from the Shadows,” each side of Led into Exile works in a pattern of running a longer song into a shorter one, then putting an even longer one after that — three tracks on each side. This underlying structure speaks to a sense of purpose in what V are doing, and indeed there’s a kind of aesthetic poise to the material, whether it’s the chugging pummel of “Illviljan” — ‘ill will,’ in Swedish — or the acoustic guitar, vibraphone and vocal-based “None Shall Rise Again,” which might owe an even heavier sonic debt to Scott Kelly than the nod-inducing opener.

There’s a not insignificant shift between sides A and B, but the YOB-esque intro to side A capper “Hostage of Souls” has a definite sense of reach on its own, and the same is true of “Broadcast from the Shadows” and “Illviljan” preceding, as intense as they are. The leadoff cut is clearly intended to hook the listener not with an ultra-catchy chorus, but with a standout riff met with massive rhythmic plod, as well as a bit of floating guitar along with Baier‘s throaty, echoing-in-a-chasm or screaming-into-the-void shouts, and it works. At 5:57, 3:58 and 8:02, respectively, “Broadcast from the Shadows,” “Illviljan” and “Hostage of Souls” set the pattern that “Phantasmagoria,” “None Shall Rise Again” and the closing title-track will mirror, but the differences in approach aren’t to be understated. What V seem to excel at is conveying intensity of purpose. As the quick drumming behind the angular riff of “Illviljan” takes hold, punctuated with a popping snare before a stop brings it to the next stage of its evolution as it makes its way back eventually to where it came from, the depth of Led into Exile is writ large in the raw tones and harsh edge V communicate.

v

It’s a modernist brutality, with sharp corners and little interest in quaint notions like mercy. The longer “Hostage of Souls” offers turns from hypnotic and quiet stretches to explosive lurch, breaking around its midpoint to a near-silent ambience of minimalist guitar and (after a minute or so) vibraphone that carries through to its finish in creepy and echoing fashion. Of course, on LP, there’s a side flip between them, but I wouldn’t be surprised if “Hostage of Souls” and “Phantasmagoria” (7:50) were positioned as well with the lead-in from one to the other in mind as well as the overarching mirrored structure of the album, such is the flow from that quieter second half of the one into the outright onslaught of the other. And “Phantasmagoria” continues to build on that, demonstrating plainly the side B method of pushing further into the elements and roots that side A has established.

And while the individual tracks that comprise it are longer, that’s just as true in terms of breadth as it is in runtime. The departure from lurching onslaught into the acoustic “None Shall Rise Again” is a drastic-feeling turn that, while still fair game in terms of the sphere in which are working on Led into Exile, shouldn’t be overlooked. And the fact that it stays acoustic for its 5:31 duration says something in itself. It sets up the nine-minute punch of the closing title-track with an opportunity to both make an impact with a turn back toward more tonally weighted riffing, and that’s not one V let pass them by. Angular churn and biting, echoing vocals are met with an undercurrent of synth after the first minute, a chug and march with an outward feel cutting after about 3:30 into the total 9:09 in order to give headphone-worthy ambient guitar its space to set up the final push.

That last march will take hold at 6:40 and explodes into heavy post-rock tones and clean vocals for a surprising and melodic crescendo that carries Led into Exile to its finish. Even after the shift in the second half of “Hostage of Souls” and the cleaner-if-still-guttural vocal turn in “None Shall Rise Again,” that concluding section is a final expansion of the context for the album as a whole, once more speaking to the conceptual structure on which the two sides are working even as it adds more to the raw palette from which they’re drawing. And it’s worth noting that, for a style not exactly known for its brevity in songwriting, they get there in relatively efficient fashion, thereby rounding out a record that is both clear and varied in its purpose and unflinching in its sonic resolve. I don’t know what V might’ve been doing during those long stints on the backburner, but clearly activity suits them in terms of establishing a forward progression, which is exactly what they do in these songs.

V on Thee Facebooks

V on Instagram

V on Bandcamp

Suicide Records website

Suicide Records on Thee Facebooks

Tags: , , , , ,