Quick Review: VIRCOLAC Masque

This may be my ignorance talking, but I don’t think I’ve listened to much death metal from Ireland. The country is better known among headbangers like myself for black metal bands like Primordial, Cruachan, and Altar of Plagues. But hey, I’m always ready to stand corrected. Luckily enough the country’s capital has spat forth Vircolac, a band seeking both to embody the best in death metal, while still innovating to keep it moving forward.

Their first full-length release, Masque, is a fine attempt at such a feat. They keep the sound appropriately raw and avoid softening the edges too much via over-production. They’ve certainly studied at the schools of Leprosy, Altars of Madness, and Cause of Death, but they make an earnest effort to diversify their progressions, add interesting parts to each song, and vary the riffing style. In this way, they’re a lot like contemporary bands like Horrendous, Obliteration, and Chapel of Disease.

I admire the band for their chosen theme on this record especially. The album is a meditation on the many masks we wear throughout life, including the pretentious air we put on for this reason or that. The record is meant to smash through these myriad illusions and remind us all that, yes, one day you will die. This makes the song “Masque of Obsequious Venality” the centerpiece of the album.

The album’s theme and the band’s musical mission are both compelling reasons to check them out. They haven’t quite struck stylistic brilliance quite yet on this album, and I think a meatier (but not necessarily cleaner) production could help them out a bit and would especially give the guitars some more power (think the sound on Human, that would be really good for Vircolac). I also could have done without the screeching at the beginning of “Titan.” Still, if you want a snapshot of an up-and-coming death metal band finding its footing, Masque is a great place to look.

Favorite songs: “The Long Trail” and “Tether & Wane”

Score: 7.5/10

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