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Vanha - Within The Mist Of Sorrow (2016) - Review

Band: Vanha
Album title: Within The Mist Of Sorrow
Release date: 28 December 2016
Label: Black Lion Records

01. Old Heart Fails
02. Into the Cold Light
03. The Curse
04. Reaching The End
05. Dark Heart
06. Desolation
07. The Curse (Instrumental)

2016 was a good year for those who embrace the atmospheric doom metal and just few days before the year ended another not to be missed album came to the stores, its name is Within The Mist Of Sorrow and the band who did it is a newcomer to the scene named Vanha. Strangely enough Vanha means old in Finnish, nevertheless, the man and founder behind the band, the Swedish multiinstrumentalist and vocalist Jan Johansson, better known from the black/death metal band Frostvang, initially meant Vanha to be his sideproject where he could explore the most depressive, darkest and heaviest of sounds. After the first demo, Jesse Oinas joined on drums and now the two are out with their first full-lenght.

There's no secret that Vanha is deeply influenced by 90s doom metal masters like My Dying Bride, early Anathema and Paradise Lost era Shades Of God and Gothic, but it's contemporary enough by bringing into the sound that special melancholic atmospheric sound that will enthuse fans of bands like Shape Of Despair, Clouds, Doom:VS, Saturnus and likes. Within The Mist Of Sorrow consists of seven tracks that will lead the listener into the grey world reflecting nothing but death, depression, agony and darkness. And even if it starts in a typical doom/death manner the things get pretty quickly exciting and go their own way when Vanha inserts into their music beside deep growling vocals also clean, sometimes half-spoken vocals, various classical instruments, strings, pipes, organs and yet you could find something more. All of this different instruments nicely blend into the whole picture and make the sound varied, dynamic and adds a lot of depth.

Compositions on Within The Mist Of Sorrow are thoroughly melodic, with nice crescendos, hard hitting drums, poignant bass lines and many piano insertions that make the ambiance even more melancholic and dark. If the first two track are nothing but generic downtempo atmospheric death/doom compositions, creating kind of an impressive suffocating atmosphere with thick morbid sound thanks to use of organ and gloomy synths, the things get pretty exciting when the third track, "The Curse", starts with deeply melancholic spoken depressive vocals and nicely builds up the very solid, depressive somehow flamboyant atmosphere. "Reaching The End" is the heaviest track up here, strong and slow punishing rhythms combined with dark growling vocals and sounds of violin mixed with nice guitar leads sets the mood very high, it's played with excelence and the whole thing reminds to early Paradise Lost more than to anything else.

The rest of the album is even better, the two musicians know how to make things interesting by constant variations between calm and extreme parts, just listen how those soothing elements blend with harsh dense instrumentation on "Dark Heart" or how intense, lush in atmosphere, almost solemn and emotional is "Desolation", in my opinion the best track up here. Within The Mist Of Sorrow ends with the nice captivating instrumental version of the track "The Curse".

Vanha's debut is a nice addition to the atmospheric death/doom genre, it's not something revolutionary, but still it's an interesting album that provokes kind of melancholic emotional state of mind with its immense depth and subtle refined compositions. Also thanks to the good productional value it shines in its darkness even more. This album shows huge talent of musicians involved in its creation, it's a must for everybody who fancies this kind of music, though I'm justifiable to expect even more from Vanha in the future, and the only thing that I'm about to suggest to the band is that they should use less growls and more clean vocals, because when they are exploring the darkness this way the things are in my opinion far more substantial.

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 8/10