Despite only having formed in 2019, Ecuador’s Wampyric Rites has released a steady flow of material over the past two years with a new demo or split coming out every few months. With a sound that leans towards the rawer side and channels the spirit of the Les Légions Noires bands from France, the group has further refined these ideas on their debut full length The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre. Spread across six songs that tend to be a bit longer in length, Wampyric Rites offers equal amounts of raw blasting and methodical, ritualistic instrumentation that sounds like it will pull you into the depths of a murky crypt.
In similar fashion to LLN, Wampyric Rites belongs to the Pure Raw Underground Black Metal Plague circle which encompasses several black metal bands from South America that seek to capture the same rawness and sense of complete darkness. Unlike others that have adopted this approach and flooded portals like Bandcamp with material that was recorded with the lowest amount of effort, this band manages to achieve their rawer sound without making all the details completely impenetrable. “Ancient Specters of the Forlorn Forest” starts the album off with a haunting synth and piano that brings much older horror movies to mind and channels the same type of tense and mysterious atmosphere as a lot of current dungeon synth artists, transitioning around the halfway point into that wall of icy tremolo riffs that you’d expect. From there Wampyric Rites remains firmly in black metal territory for the rest of the album, moving between quicker blasts and more methodical, ritualistic tempos on the longer pieces. The approach to songwriting is likely to feel familiar, but there remains something appealing about the sinister atmosphere and the rawer qualities of the recording such as how the drums pop out in the mix and the melodies just barely hover over the noise. There are some standout moments where that mix of violence and otherworldly atmosphere come together perfectly, but The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre does start to fall into a familiar formula and its longer tracks do feel a bit repetitive. As a result, the tense atmosphere and noisiness are what drew me in for repeat listens over the individual songs, which leaves some room for further growth.
Vocalist Strigoi has the type of abrasive and blood curdling pitches that fit this type of black metal perfectly, and he moves seamlessly from lower growls to ear piercing shrieks over the course of each song. Wampyric Rites does bury their vocals slightly in the mix, making it sound as though Strigoi is just barely breaking through the layers of sound like a vampire rising from a coffin. While I’ve sometimes criticized this approach in the past, having the ear piercing shrieks and inhuman growls a little further back actually works in this case as it contributes additional tension and gives the album the same mystique as some of the better acts from the 90s.
There are a ton of bands out there trying to channel the vampiric and rougher edges of LLN and other underground acts from 90s black metal, but Wampyric Rites showcases more promise than most. Although there’s room for a bit more variation in the songwriting and I wouldn’t mind some additional synth or piano interludes to break things up, they’ve captured that raw and murky atmosphere perfectly and that still makes this debut appealing. Since this full length was released another demo has already surfaced, so I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of this band in the coming year. The Eternal Melancholy of the Wampyre is available from Inferna Profundus Records.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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