Enlarge Photo Credit: Entre Saisons

The Best of Prophecy Fest: Völur

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Now in its second year, Prophecy Fest — hosted by German melting pot label Prophecy Productions — takes place INSIDE OF A FUCKING CAVE.

If images flood your head of dust and mildew floating through the air amidst questionable body odors, bat shit, a poorly lit stage and cacophonous sound, you’re way off the mark: Prophecy Fest — located in the tiny, fairytale-like town of Balve in western Germany — was one of the most civilized metal gatherings I’ve ever attended. The cave, Balver Höhle, from which the remains of both proto-humans and wooly mammoths have been exhumed, is the immaculate metal venue; plenty of room for a full stage, merch, a bar and roughly 2,000 concertgoers, with moody lighting and immaculate sound. Combine that with Prophecy’s diverse roster of artists — flown in from as far away as Australia and Canada, and driven from right down the road — and a die-hard audience with an appreciation for eclectic music, and they’ve struck a winning tone for a festival that’s unlike any other.

I’ll be featuring five of my favorite bands from the festival in this space in the coming days. Read my brief thoughts, check out a tune, and get hip to what Prophecy Productions is doing; after 20 years they’re only just now hitting their stride with big things on the horizon.

View my full coverage of Prophecy Fest 2016 here.

Völur

Canadian doom/folk trio Völur kicked off day two of Prophecy Fest, and despite the early call time the cave was packed by those who picked up the band’s June release Disir, those were interesting in hearing what a black-hooded, smoke-shrouded trio of violin, bass and drums sounds like and those who were simply at Prophecy Fest to check out every single band. The latter category was quite substantial, by the way — it’s the kind of festival where you don’t want to miss anything.

Völur’s sweet spot lies between traditional doom, folk and classical, which isn’t surprising given the three members’ other gigs in Blood Ceremony, post-rock outfit Do Make Say Think, various jazz combos and pop session work. Where so, so many doom bands in 2016 are content to recycle the same Sleep riffs that’ve been endlessly mined for the past 20 years, Völur’s strength lies in mixing doom in equal measures with elements of music from far outside the typical metal spectrum. Sure, the presence of a violin makes that easy enough by default, but it’s way more than that; take the harmonized vocal intro of new song “Breaker of Silence,” in the video below, not only an unexpected treat at a metal show but an extremely well-executed, impressive feat in any live setting. That Völur manage to pull that off and words like “crushing” and “abrasive” still apply to their music — Laura C. Bates’ chilling violin work had me paralyzed in fear, with the rhythm section just killing it behind her — is testament to how well the combo works, and how fresh it is to hear.

Völur are going to be huge once they hit the touring circuit hard. Keep an ear out.

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