Release Date: Oct 23, 2015
Record label: Profound Lore
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Individually and within their other projects (the members of Vhöl hail impressively from YOB, Hammers of Misfortune and Agalloch), every member of this super-group (Mike Scheidt, John Cobbett, Aesop Dekker and Sigrid Sheie) have a reputation for making music that is as cerebral as it is sublime. When they first combined their powers for their self-titled debut as Vhöl, the relative simplicity and violence of the aesthetic was a significant but not unwelcome surprise. Instead of the dizzying complexity of progressive or the shimmering elegance of Cascadian black metal, their first effort was blackened d-beat and bloody hardcore, played to the hilt.
VHÖL are the ideal modern metal band—they fuse battle-tested forms of metal with impressive arrangements and a progressive fire that traditionalists and revivalists can't match. Their personel is bulletproof—John Cobbett and Sigrid Sheie hail from San Francisco's prog-power masters Hammers of Misfortune, Mike Scheidt is the vocalist and guitar player behind YOB, and Aesop Dekker is the black metal punker from Ludicra (where Cobbett also played) and Agalloch. All four involved have a rare, vital chemistry, and Deeper Than Sky keeps that fire alive while finding more ways to bend traditional metal formulas.
Does being a great metal album mean doing things that other metal albums don’t do? Not a very kvlt thing to ask of course, and anyway, the real question is the flip: Can a metal album be great for only doing things that other metal albums do? The thing is, people snicker at dilettantes everywhere you look, and they’re not totally wrong; there will always be people who like Deafheaven purely because they have parts that sound like R. E. M.
I first got into heavy metal when my friends introduced me to Metallica. It was unlike anything I had ever heard: fast, brutal, occasionally morbid, and always thrilling. The visceral and powerful nature of the music was addictive and somehow relieving, a treat to my tame ears, evoking angst, joy, and curiosity all at the same time. VHÖL reminds me of those nostalgic formative years back when I was discovering all the great thrash and speed metal classics for the first time, enamored by the riffs, affronted by the lyrical content, and always digging the fucked up album covers with illustrations of nightmares.
In VHÖL's creative sphere anything goes, and the lack of stylistic boundaries is what makes this band so electrifying. VHÖL are comprised of a number of West Coast underground metal veterans, some of whom have previously played together: guitarist John Cobbett and drummer Aesop Dekker were in the much-missed post-black metal act Ludicra, while Cobbett and VHÖL bassist Sigrid Sheie (also of Amber Asylum) are in the hugely underrated prog metal band Hammers of Misfortune. In addition, VHÖL vocalist and YOB visionary Mike Scheidt has been known to jam with numerous musicians in either a guest role (Red Fang, Dark Castle) or as an integral part of a studio project (Lumbar).
Vhöl — Deeper than Sky (Profound Lore)Photo by Sarah BradyRidiculous joy isn’t an emotion plays out well in metal. It is, however, what makes Vhöl stand out. Members hale from Yob and Agalloch, bands that are plodding and meditative even in the context of contemporary metal, where all light has been banished. Vhöl’s debut had a murky glaze, driven by d-beat buzzsaws that usually signal protest, but didn’t in this case.