Varus

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14/20
Band Name Imperious (GER)
Album Name Varus
Type Album
Erscheinungsdatum 22 April 2011
Musik GenreEpic Black
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Tracklist

1. Prologue 01:13
2. Publius Qunctilius Varus 07:39
3. Arminius 07:50
4. Segestes' Charge 06:59
5. 3 Legions March 09:22
6. The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest 08:24
7. 9 a.d., Autumn 19:11
8. Quinctili Vare, Legiones Redde 09:17
Total playing time 01:09:55


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Review @ miniradman

08 Juli 2011

Back To Basics... But Still Moving Forward

Varus is Imperious’s debut album which was released by Heretic Visions Productions in 2011. These guys are a black metal band hailing from Germany. When people think of German black metal, you could almost guarantee that the bands Endstille and Equilibrium will come to mind. But there aren’t many German bands that seem to take influence from traditional or first wave black metal, all those bands seem to be moving forward with the times. Black metal from Germany, typically, doesn’t sound like anything from the Norwegian, Finnish or Polish scenes. Now these guys are quite different from what we normally find in the German black metal scene. These guys are more like their first wave predecessors, carrying on the unspoilt black metal sound from the times of Bathory.

As I might have implied in the opening paragraph, these guys are a traditional sounding black metal band. So unlike the modern day style you typically find in Germany these days, the sound that these guys have is a lot softer and the music doesn’t aim at brutality of showman ship in their music. There seems to be a strong influence here (and correct me if I’m wrong) from bands such as Bathory, who have that epic black metal sound in their music. The drumming isn’t overly fast and the song writing and song structure isn’t as complex as say, bands from the late 80s and early 90s era. To me, epic black metal sounds like it has that same song structure, speed and pace of raw black metal band… without the rawness of course. The two main instruments that I think are responsible for this type of sound are the guitars and the drumming. I can’t exactly put my finger of what makes that signature high pitch sound of the drumming which is so unique to epic black metal, but it’s there.

Once you venture deeper in this dark abyss which is Varus, you start getting some signs that tell you that epic and first wave black metal aren’t the only things that are being played out there. The guitars riffs sound a little folky rather than epic blackish. So yeah, the music has a folk metal feel thrown in there complements their epic black style and the style of vocals the vocalist uses. Also, it’s gives this band an opportunity to get some atmosphere happening in their music because there is very little that is brought about by the epic black sound. Not only this, but like many folk/folk black bands out there today, there have an uplifting quality to their music. Something that cannot be replicated in other forms of rock/metal. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same style that you have heard a million times before from other bands. Rather than just jumping into all the folkish elements into their music, they take a more progressive approach. This is probably because of the epic black parts in their music.

I think that every single black metal fan out there (or anyone with a relative knowledge of black metal and it’s components) will know that atmosphere plays a massive role in the creation of their music. Without atmosphere is like trying to prepare a sandwich without any bread, because you know that it just won’t work. Black metal probably wouldn’t be able properly without some kind of evidence or traces of atmosphere. Now there are two major atmospheres that are utilized in Imperious’s music and the simple way of describing it would be light and dark. Light from the folk black side to their music and darkness from the epic black side to their music. The contrast between these two “territories” in their music is what I think is the best part of their song writing. Also, there is not track on this album that only has the one style. Since all the tracks (other than the intro) are at least seven minutes or longer, there is plenty of room to mix and match until they have sound their perfect combination.

Musically, like many epic black bands out there, the music is quite loose and this isn’t a negative thing about their music though. It is almost like the epic black metal charm to their music. But the thing is that, they don’t show anything instrumentally with that “WOW” factor. I don’t think that this album would be remembered as having the best drumming, vocals, or guitar work. But the composition of their music is much more important the skilfulness of members. But there is just something about their music that doesn’t seem to satisfy the band criteria. Rather than sounding like one unit. It seems that each member is playing their part, but for some reason each part doesn’t seem to fit as well as what I could have. It sounds like the band members would have just met on the street or of the band members held auditions. But over time, I think that musicianship will grow and flourish.

There are a few decent tracks on this album. All of them (except for the introduction) are 7 minutes or over, this leaves a massive amount of room to cram in some much needed variety in their music, and the combination of epic black and folk black is an almost perfect mixture. The opening track is Publius Qunctilius Varus and, like 99% of all opening tracks ever, it gives the first impression on this album and the band’s music. Ultimately, it lets the listener decide whether or not to continue listening to this album. I must say, this was an excellent first impression to their music. The music had everything that you could possibly expect for this band; folk and epic black elements as well as magnificent song writing and song structure. This is a track that lets the music take hold, and the vocals come second place. It’s all about atmosphere. Skip a couple of tracks and you hit 3 Legions March. After the repetitiveness of the previous tracks, this track goes in a different direction. There are a few hints of death metal style riffs here and even a touch of progressive metal. The music is slower and (dare I say it) a lot more soothing than everything else in the album. This is an excellent track to unwind to. The last track to mention is 9 a.d., Autumn, now before I jump straight into the mechanics of this track. I must point out that this is a 19 minute song which is longer than some demos out there. This track is another soothing track , just like 3 Legions March except it seems a lot more sinister. There is an almost evil feeling behind their music. Still an excellent track though.

Overall, Varus is not a bad debut album release. The main highlights to their music would have to be their; atmosphere song writing and song structure. There is a certain beauty that is associated with this style of music, and it comes from the folkish side of their sound. And there is also a very dark, sinister side to their sound which comes from the epic black elements. It is the contrast between the two which essentially make their music a whole lot better. I recommend this album to any black metal fans out there. Although if you are looking for anything overly depressive or extremely insane, this might not be for you. This is mainly for fans of the likes of bathory and burzum. I’d also like to recommend the track Publius Qunctilius Varus for people who just want a quick taste (7:40 minute taste) of this bands sound. For those who are looking for something more soothing, you cannot go past the tracks 3 Legions March and 9 a.d., Autumn, they literally take you to another world. Overall, this was a great first impression to this bands sound, I think that Imperious is a band to keep track on radar in the future. I give this a 15/20.

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Review @ heavymetaltribune

03 Februar 2012

could perhaps been more enjoyable had the band presented their art in more bite-sized chunks

Encountering bands that proclaim themselves to play "epic" metal has always left me slightly apprehensive, with pointless long song running times that usually end up making the album epic only in terms of the length of the track. Varus is Germany's Imperious' debut full length album, and happens to claim to play "epic black metal", a genre that I have come to learn to be wary of.

A spoken vocals on Prologue introduces the listener to the band's music, an obligatory move for most epic metal bands I believe and it's not long before the band begins the album proper with a melodic, almost melancholic guitar line on Publius Qunctilius Varus. The band manages to bring about the epic feel in the song as they soon break into a more aggressive section, at times almost sounding like it could come off a folk/viking metal album with the chord progression and the vocals of Sertorius, though the foundation that the band has built their music on is undoubtedly black metal.

Throughout the album, the band manages to retain some emotional elements, with the melodic lead guitar line constantly wailing at the background on some tracks, and it sounds almost as if the band built the songs around these lead guitar lines. Other times, the band choose to utilise big rhythmic melodies, such as on Segeste's Charge, with the introductory riffs sounding like a more mellow-sounding version of what bands like Amon Amarth would write. Mostly, the songs are structured such that the overarching theme revolves around an epic, melodic soundscape, punctuated by faster, chaotic moments when least expected. This helps to keep things surprising for the listener, though this could backfire on the band, with some transitions ending up sounding awkward and forced, affecting the flow of the music, like the transition from a mid-paced tempo to a doom-paced one at the beginning of Segeste's Charge. The 19-minute epic 9 A.D., Autumn is perhaps a good example of Imperious' style of music, with the numerous folk/heroic elements included and the melodious progression of the track.

However, like many other epic metal albums, the enjoyment of Varus falters in the department of the song lengths. While the song lengths that average around 8 minutes are understandable with the band's efforts in trying to bring out the epic feelings in the music, at times it seemed to drag on and on, with the songs beginning to sound repetitive towards the middle, even with a dazzling first half, and could easily cause listeners to drift off and lose focus on the music, especially on songs like The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. Also, the lead guitar lines, while providing the main backing melody of some songs, could end up getting slightly irritating as well through the numerous repetition, fortunately these moments are only present on certain tracks. There are also slightly cheesy moments on tracks like Arminius, where vocalist Sertorius drags out the pronunciation of some parts of the lyrics, to a slightly humorous effect.

No doubt, Imperious has managed to capture some of the essence of epic metal through Varus, though there are times when the band seems to have indulged and focussed too much on the song lengths (perhaps unavoidable with the stories that are being told through the lyrics on the album), causing a potentially good album to be less enjoyable than it should really be, and could perhaps been more enjoyable had the band presented their art in more bite-sized chunks.

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