Varaha’s brand new album A Passage for Lost Years is quite simply an enthralling, beautiful work. It’s an ethereal, epic black metal experience that demands to be felt. The band push the enveloping sensibilities associated with the genre outward, turning their music into a blanket of sorts that lays across the listener’s surroundings. Rather than focus on immediately acute “physical” poignancy via chaotic guitars, screeched vocals, and the like, Varaha dig deep with the power of broad, emotional brushstrokes, proving reassuringly confident even while their music remains mercilessly intense at times on a technical level.
A Passage for Lost Years feels like black metal for those who don’t feel like enveloping their body in mayhem at the moment and would instead like to drift under a watchful eye into a fresh new environment intriguingly obscured and complicated by fog. There’s always something happening on the album — the listener is never left, well, bored, but instead in a remarkable feat the band’s continuous gentleness grips them with a force and thickness reminiscent of the heaviest metal.
While there is some clear ability to ponder one’s own reflection with this music, that’s not the band’s main focus. Instead, they seem to confidently set off into a great unknown, as beautifully exemplified by features like their repeated musical interludes including an epic, almost ten minute long closing track that’s essentially entirely instrumentals. Further adding in on this front, the band repeatedly employ straightforward stringed orchestral-sounding instrumentation, letting the potential in the band’s guiding light shine forth beautifully.
These elements come together in a work that defies categorization. The striking nature of the band’s gently rocking intensity helps drive home just how interestingly demanding this album is. It’s a true sonic experience, with intrigue quickly keeping the listener attached to its storytelling. The music offers a palpable, resolute almost-confidence in dealing with some dour darkness that shines clearly through the music and the lyricism that does poke through. There’s an interesting idea seemingly driving this work — even in that dark, dark place that traditional black metal deals with in a dose of liberating brutal realism, there is something on the other side. A Passage for Lost Years seems somewhat like a monument to that progression, even if it’s through endless more dark.
Listen below via Bandcamp. The full album will be available April 26 via Prosthetic Records