Review: “Lair” by VOVK

Hailing from Kyiv Ukraine and creating a blend of Post-Hardcore, Stoner and Progressive Rock are VOVK. They recorded their debut album “Lair” with Vadyk Lazariev at Lipky Zvukozapys studio in Kyiv. Mastering was performed by John Davis (Led Zeppelin, Foals, Florence and The Machine). It’s a concept album of sorts with each song reflecting the life of the lyrical hero who is constantly searching for himself and his place in the world opposing his personality to society and other people’s believes. Igor Sydorenko (Stoned Jesus, Krobak, Voida), Igor Cherepanov (AGHIAZMA) and Katya Gapochka all make guest appearances on the album.

The initial riffs of “Endless Waterfall” bring back memories of the Stoner Metal group Seamless who released a couple of albums a while back and were fronted by Jesse Leech of Killswitch Engage fame. Those riffs then slow up to allow for some Progressive meanderings with guitars that flow like rivers at different paces. There are some Jazzy stylings and even a riff that sounds like “New Noise” by The Refused towards the end. The clean vocals are more akin to someone like Paolo Colavolpe of Italian Progressive Metalcore heroes Destrage. That’s most evident at the beginning of “Ancient Times” which is a tale of two songs. The first half being an eclectic mix of  broken Mathcore riffs in higher pitched tuning before slowing down for a long Progressive rise to a final crescendo. A 2 minute 15 second introduction of Stoner Sludge riffs introduce “Something”, which is the first tune to include some unclean vocals though it doesn’t necessarily need them. There is a folk like mid song melodic part followed by a whispered vocal passage that calms things to tranquility which repeats either side of a chunky Stoner breakdown and works really well. The use a couple of very distinct guitar tones helps keep the sound split and gives the song a great ebb and flow of atmosphere.

The sound of pouring rain, almost ancient tribe like bongo drums and an acoustic guitar brings a sense of calming at the start of “Forrest”. There is a Pink Floyd like quality to the opening that is seen elsewhere on the album and as quickly as it starts, it ends. There is more to this one than meets the eye and a part II could well be on the cards for the next next album. The Mathcore returns for “The Last Ship Above the Sky” with a sense of schizophrenia in the vocals that have an echo effect or a second vocal layer behind them. Between the break out vocal bursts there are some Progressive meanderings with big cycled riffs that repeat in concentric circles broken by other patterns. When things eventually return to a Stoner riff, it’s at Downtempo pacing to allow for some atmospheric harmonic vocals before things drift out. Igor Sydorenko (Stoned Jesus, Krobak, Voida) appears on “My Own Private Thoughts” and the contrast between the vocals is an immediate success. The unclean post-hardcore vocals contrast against the brighter cleans incredibly well as a nearly 10 minute song that encompasses all the bands stylings plays out it captures the imagination. There is never a point where it becomes Progressive for Progressive sake and the contrasting styles are blended so seamlessly that it’s a joy [7/10]

Track listing

  1. Endless Waterfall
  2. Ancient Times (Ft. Igor Cherepanov)
  3. Something
  4. Forrest (Ft. Katya Gapochka)
  5. The Last Ship Above the Sky
  6. My Own Private Thoughts (Ft. Igor Sydorenko)

“Liar” by VOVK is out now and available over at bandcamp

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