Written by: AP on 11/12/2008 18:53:57

Over the course of the year it has become clear that the Danish metal scene is still very much alive and healthier than ever. While the more established groups have been asleep or in writing mode for much of it, a new breed has emerged from the depths of the underground, keen to usher a Danish stake in the next generation of metal. Among these hopefuls are Vira, who, despite having little more than demos to back it up, have earned the reputation of one of the most promising young acts in the country; a reputation that Rikke Øxner rightfully acknowledged earlier this year, granting the band the prestige of performing at Roskilde Festival.

With a debut EP which consists of just three songs but looks and sounds like the latest single from an American technical metalcore band with two or three records in their name, that's hardly a surprise. "Recurrence", mixed and mastered by metal guru Jacob Hansen, is proof that this band is ready to break out of its shell and expand beyond the domestic scene. It begins with the jarring breakdown in "Midnight Poison", which immediately spells out Vira's taste for the polyrhythmic that is used often from then onwards with varying effect. On the one hand, the band is able to turn this metalcore cliché to its advantage by dishing it out in long, intense barrages, creating whole verses out of them and texturing them with harmonics and dissonant leads with the result that they no longer quite satisfy the definition of a breakdown, much in the vein of Meshuggah. On the other hand, there's the moshmania of "Escape", in which the breakdowns are intended as breakdowns and come in from every open window via transitions that sound a bit force-fed, especially after the groovy undercurrent, reminiscent of Hatesphere's newer produce, in the distinctly Danish sounding main riff.

Closer "Half Awake" is the real gem here though: an absolutely breathtaking feat of song-writing, not to mention musicianship. It begins much in the same fashion as the two other tracks, albeit with an audible bay-area influence now, but with a present dark melody that brings to mind new wave death metal, or deathcore, if you like. Occasionally it accelerates into choruses so intense they'd have Misery Signals, who are by now veterans in this kind of delivery, wondering what the fuck just happened there. Vira would be at its finest here, were it not for finale that follows: a clean, prog-rock interlude with a subtle bass solo carries the song to an apparently improvised two minutes with a guitar solo so emotional, so incredible that now, if not before, it should be clear that here is a band with genuine international potential. Vocalist Kim Jarlhelt completes it with the agonizing scream of "Goodbye", like a bow to guitarist Alex Munck's father who passed away two days before the band entered studio to record "Recurrence".

Apart from a craving for more, "Recurrence" leaves little to be desired; its only shortcoming is the propensity to always go for the breakdown. Kim's vocal performance is next to flawless the genre of music taken into account, though it will be interesting to see what treasures he has yet to discover in his range when the band's debut full-length becomes a reality; and indeed interesting to see what direction Vira will pursue: will it be the more progressive soundscapes or the crushing moshing? One thing remains to be answered: why the hell is this band not signed yet?


Download: Recurrence
For the fans of: Misery Signals, The Psyke Project, Scamp
Listen: Myspace

Release date 01.02.2008

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