There’s Plenty Missing On Vaura’s New Album
There is a moment, when it comes to progression and experimentation, when one must wonder if a band is even making metal anymore. This obviously opens up the whole “What Is Metal, Anyway” debate that has infuriated metal fans for ages, but there is a valid point to questioning a band’s ability to make music that is aggressive, energetic, and powerful. The problem with Vaura’s second full-length album The Missing is that it takes the softer and crunchier aspects of modern progressive black metal and uses them to make a decent goth album, but one that is devoid of what makes black metal captivating.
Sure, The Missing has muffled blastbeats, eerie drawn-out synth passages, and a sub-aquatic production that all suggest it’s a black metal record. Vaura even has a metal pedigree in the form of guitarist Kevin Hufnagel of Gorguts and Dysrhythmia renown. But for ten tracks, this Brooklyn quartet produce one precious, pretty track after another, loaded with moaned vocals, melancholy guitars, and psychedelic echoes that sound like so much fake smoke and eyeliner, lacking any of the blood and sweat and grit that infuses raw life into metal. And yes, they sound like bands such as Nachtmystium, Wolves In The Throne Room, and Akercocke, but they just have very little of the genuine strengths that these bands champion.
The opening title track starts with a strained black metal section, but soon devolves into dusky goth-pop, which “Incomplete Burning” drives home hard. The opening of “Mare of the Snake” sounds identical to that of “Blue Monday.” “Passage To Vice” has its moments, but is overall just as angsty as the rest of the tracks, which blur into one sonorous, plucked chorus after another. “Braced for Collapse” has some excellent desperate screams during the chorus, and provides the album with a decent show of rage; then vocalist Josh Strawn says the line, “What gets you off, dear/Are you power-hungry?” and the song feels like another Bauhaus bite-off. In many ways, this album personifies what overly-traditional headbangers mean when they hate on Brooklyn-based metal—the music here feels so bogged down with influences of death rock, indie rock, and post-rock that it loses its metallic edge.
As far as I can tell, Vaura’s latest offering is very competent at what it does, if what it does is your bag; this record sounds no worse than Disintegration or Crackle, even if it doesn’t have what it takes to go up against A Blaze In The Northern Sky. I’m sure The Missing is for someone, because according to the Internet, many people really like The Cure. I don’t, and I don’t like this album.