First off, some venting of frustration is in order here: The first thing that comes to some people’s minds upon viewing this album cover is probably something like, “Oh! Finally! Communist Black Metal! Now we have COMMIEBM to go along with our USBM, NSBM, N00BBM and KVLTBM.” As if industrial black metal isn’t a good enough description as it is, we can now conveniently find useless Wikipedia pages and YouTube tags dedicated specifically to REDRUMBM. Regardless of all that nonsense, the fact that Vlast is anything but an album dedicated to communism is worth mentioning. In Russian, the word “vlast” means “power, authority, dominion, control or dominance.” In other words, alongside the group’s recent EP Dictatura (which features the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Milosevic and Kadyrov on its cover), Vlast is an album both musically and thematically dedicated to ruthless domination and complete control.
N.K.V.D. operates behind a shroud of secrecy, as the only thing that is known about the duo is its French origin. All of Vlast‘s instruments and samples were orchestrated by a person known only as L.F. The vocalist on the album also goes by an alias (H.S.), but hints from Those Opposed Records tell us two things: 1. H.S. performs in a number of well-known Swedish black metal outfits, and 2. The man behind the mic isn’t Mortuus from Marduk and Funeral Mist, as L.F. has mentioned directly that H.S. isn’t a vocalist in his other projects. Needless to say, the vox on this daddy are beyond grimacing, and that’s not the only thing…
The horrors of Vlast go well past the album’s intimidating themes of world domination, as the onslaught of haunting industrial madness will ring throughout the listener’s ears to the point of insanity. It’s not only the head-on collision of ear drums and a massive army of riffs that blacken the album’s atmosphere, but also the subtle usage of a lesser known tactic: disorientation. One key trait of any successful dictator is their ability to prevent the masses from organizing and forming an uprising. In this specific instance, Vlast demonstrates this tactic flawlessly, but therein lies its downfall. The album has so many chilling sound effects and so much atmosphere that it’s no wonder that N.K.V.D. put more time into the sound of the album than it did the actual songs. Much like that on Negative Plane‘s release this year (yes, it’s an odd musical comparison), the main emphasis seems geared toward the album’s atmosphere rather than the album itself.
Vlast nears the forty minute mark, so it isn’t too much of a chore to listen to, but the blatantly terrifying exterior that will initially enthuse most listeners will eventually wear off, as they will be left with what feels like an ongoing collective of scary noises. That’s not to say N.K.V.D. doesn’t deserve a near-perfect score for its ability to create something monumental for industrial black metal as a whole; but the overall product still leaves much to be desired. Even so, the French should stand proud knowing that they’ve received a very worthy new addition to the roster, spearheaded by this year’s III (Aosoth) and parts I and II of the 777 Trilogy (Blut Aus Nord). À la vôtre!