At some point between their debut full-length and today, Slovenian heavy metal band Vigilance had two ideas for their future career: get a new logo and add black metal into their sound. As much as I like their NWOBHM-worshipping, cleaner traditional metal debut; looking back now I can say that both those decisions are proven to be steps in the right direction. The band have found their unique, signature sound with the addition of black metal into the mix. It seems like people in the Eastern Europe have this natural talent for black / heavy metal and they rarely disappoint. In 2019, Vigilance released their overall fourth -but in their new style third- full-length, titled Enter the Eternal Abyss from Dying Victims Productions. Looks like they have still not quite run out of creative ideas yet.
The heavy / black mix of Vigilance is still mostly on the heavy metal side, the smooth melodic riffs and galloping rhythms carry their music with harsh vocals sitting on top of it. They are directly influenced by older bands like Iron Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Running Wild, and Master’s Hammer. As a comparison to other modern bands, you hear more Midnight than Malokarpatan or Agatus in their sound with the inclusion of some moments of sharper, thrashy, speedy guitar work which replaces the overall bouncy, melodic heavy metal riffage from time to time. Even the most black and thrashy moments of the band have this smoothness similar to Nifelheim or Dissection.
One of the best things about Enter the Eternal Abyss is the bass guitar on the album. The bands playing old school black / heavy metal usually know how to utilize the bass guitar best and Vigilance are no exception. The bass is always heavily pronounced and ever-present throughout the album with its own smooth riffs and melodies, staying true to their Iron Maiden influences. The second song, “The Return of the Savage” is where the bass work especially shines. Occasional d-beats also accompany the black / speed moments of the album, adding a rather nice tempo to it all.
Many of the tracks have extremely melodic intro riffs that set the mood for the song from the first second. The album is usually energetic and high tempo, in a sense it’s like a black metal take on Deceased, with rare doomy moments where things slow down. “The Gunslinger”, which is my favourite track on the album since my initial listen, has some of the catchiest parts of the album. “Stormbringer” is the song that got the band a spot in our Heavy Metal and Michael Moorcock feature. The song “Dvoglava Kača” with its non-English lyrics and creative synth melodies is where the album feels like Master’s Hammer most. It is also one of the two songs in Slovenian on the album, second being the closer “Črni Kolovrat” which actually feels a bit drawn out and too long, but it works fine as an outro to wrap up the album.
It is easy to see that ways of old school heavy metal have been on the rise in the last decade and there has been an increase in the number of modern and young bands who aim to play strictly in the old fashion. But most of the attempts fall short because instead of tracing their influences back to the origins of the sound, they just try to uninspiredly copy the old school worship trends. Unlike those, Vigilance are in the minority of the bands that are comfortably and consciously rooted in their main influences and while wearing the old school influences on their sleeves, they manage to add their own personality on top of it. Even though they don’t write groundbreaking, inventive music; their music manages to feel fresh and not just a copy of a copy of their inspirations. Their latest album, Enter the Eternal Abyss, is a very strong addition to their consistent discography also one of my favourites from 2019.
Album rating: 89/100
Favourite song: The Gunslinger
Dying Victims Productions