As somewhat of a fan of Bram Stoker and all things Nosferatu, when Vircolac’s debut EP, The Cursed Travails of the Demeter popped up for review here at Moshville Towers it screamed “Review me!”
The Demeter was the ship that transported Dracula from the Black Sea port of Varna to Whitby in North Yorkshire where he then travelled on to create merry hell amongst the unsuspecting throngs of Victorian London. While Vircolac hail not from Transylvania but from Dublin, the birthplace of Dracula’s creator Stoker (there endeth the lesson in Gothic literature), they clearly aim to create the same impact in a musical sense as their supernatural muse. The band describe themselves as old school atmospheric death metal (another tick in the box for this reviewer) and this four track offering represents their debut EP, following two very well received demos.
And so the music. There are clearly some old school death metal influences at play here with a clear nod to genre legends Morbid Angel. However, the band are clearly not afraid to build on this solid base and add their own take with a firm emphasis on atmosphere and storytelling throughout the EP’s four tracks, none moreso than on the opening title track and the excellent “Betwixt the Devil and Witches”. The welcome and subtle use of keyboards throughout combines with the murkiest, almost primitive guitar/bass sound to great effect in this regard. From the opening strains of the title track, you are literally transported onto the cursed ship bound for England. These guys do atmosphere with a capital A.
That’s not to say that this is all about the atmosphere. The musical content really delivers with enough excellent and catchy guitar riffs enhanced with a heavy dose of melody to keep the listener engaged throughout this foreboding journey. Vircolac also don’t feel the need to resort to the speed formula, which is refreshing, and this enables the other elements to combine to create a uniquely ominous and heavy record.
The Cursed Travails of the Demeter is an interesting debut from these guys. It manages to harness some of the best bits of the genre and add an authenticity of its own, making it well worth a listen. All aboard…
The Cursed Travails of the Demeter is out now on Dark Descent records, and is available from their Bandcamp page in a variety of formats (including plain digital download for a bargain €6.66)