Vetrar Draugurinn – Hinterlands (Painted Bass Records)Tuesday, 9th April 2019
First releasing a 3-track EP back in 2017, Vetrar Draugurinn are back with their debut full-length, this time with label Painted Bass Records backing them. Comprised of ex-Stream of Passion guitarist Eric Hazebroek and vocalist Marjan Welman (Autumn) on vocals and a few noted members of the Dutch scene, the EP was an impressive piece of depressive heavy metal. Hinterlands brings forward all of the promise of that release, and sets up Vetrar Draugurinn for larger successes.
While it’s a bit tough to really nail down the sound of Vetrar Draugurinn, those who enjoy the more dark and morose sounds of bands in the doom/gothic genre will be quite attracted to this. Elements of bands like Katatonia, Anathema, and My Dying Bride have their part in the overall scheme of things, but listening to any particular track here will bring out the notion that they are out to try to find their own niche. The overwhelming sensation of sorrow is ever-present, and even at the band’s heavier (and almost proggy) moments, this isn’t going to be a happy, ‘do a dance’ type of material. The endgame is definitely atmosphere above individual performances, and it comes across that the band is a unit – each piece contributing to the machine. Even the vocals, which are in the forefront, never really steal the show, so to speak, so much as send the music forward with an elegant and suitable vibe of melancholy. A few riffs here and there (the grooves of “Wanderer” are a nice addition in the album’s second half) will grab you, but it’s really all about that all-engulfing darkness.
Whether the music is gentle or heavy, Vetrar Draugurinn have designed a somber and dreary album that is a pleasure to listen to. Hinterlands hits the sweet spot when it comes to sadness, and there’s a powerful feeling of emotions behind it. If you want something full of darkness, but also not content to travel down the beaten path, it’s worth seeking out.