VLAD TEPES - Morte Lune CD
Vlad Tepes is an odd band in that they did all that they could to ensure that their music only reached the hands of a select few, at least at the time. With the quality of songwriting that Wlad and Vorlok were capable of, it is doubtless that they would have produced countless classic black metal albums. For one reason or another, they chose the path of obscurity. Along with extremely limited demo tapes and split releases, Vlad Tepes made their art less accessible by utilizing horrible sound quality that went beyond necro. This added a sense of character to their music, in some sense, yet could also detract from the riffs at times. The band's final offering (of original material) came in the form of La Morte Lune, released in August 1997. This tape represents a bit of a regression, as far as the sound quality goes, opting for an even fuzzier and more oppressive feel than ever before.
When first confronted with the shoddy production and grim approach, some might expect the music to be sub-par and amateurish; however, such an assumption would be quite erroneous. Much like their counterparts in Germany, Moonblood, Vlad Tepes wrought brilliant soundscapes within the realm of lo-fi black metal. There is absolutely nothing second-rate about the songwriting or musicianship that is on display, here. One might get the impression that only harsh sounds will vomit forth from the speakers, yet there are many haunting subtleties that create a morbidly disturbing atmosphere. The different songs possess a variety of tempos, from the typical fast-paced tracks that one would expect to those that best resemble a hellish war march, fit for demons and other creatures from the darkened past. The feeling conveyed is pitch-black and sends chills up your spine, especially “Morte Lune”. The vocals are still as unrestrained and feral as ever, hardly following logical patterns. While the voices call from the depths of the underworld, freezing your soul, the guitar melodies swirl around you like blackened flames that distort reality. “L'Envol Du Corbeau”, in particular, transforms your surroundings into something hardly recognizable, where nightmares bleed into your waking thoughts, with the line separating them becoming imperceptible.
As mentioned before, the production is hideous and this only benefits the music by helping to establish an obscure and distant feeling. The mix is bass-heavy, creating a thick wall that hardly allows for any treble to exist. Still, the riffs can be discerned with close attention, while the drumming sort of blends into the noise, at times. Many would say that a clearer sound would have made this music even more enjoyable, but the rotten quality actually helps the macabre atmosphere. This is not a case of poor musicians trying to hide their imperfections by utilizing a necro sound. Anyone familiar with Vlad Tepes knows that they were quite skilled when it came to writing and recording Black Metal. They were far more talented than a good number of bands that were praised for doing little more than adding keyboard nonsense over sterile riffs.
As far as it is known, La Morte Lune is the final recording of original Vlad Tepes material. It is quite possible that the band persisted and simply kept their music to themselves and those close to them. Either way, it was a loss to the LLN and to black Mmtal, as a whole, when this band chose to descend back to the infernal depths from which it was spawned. Do not be turned away by the poor sound. This is high-quality material that deserves to be heard.
Originally self-released on tape in 1996. Drakkar Prod. 2013