Vespertine - Desolate Soil - Album Review - Symphonic Folk Metal

Vespertine - Desolate Soil - Album Review - Symphonic Folk Metal

The last day of January brings relatively good weather here at the institution in the Swiss Alps, marking another checkpoint in my surreality. After a hectic morning filled with unexpected news, I'm back in my office, doing what I currently do best in this life; writing about music. Today's focus is on Vespertine and their exciting upcoming album, 'Desolate Soil', a project of two talented musicians that exceeds expectations in every regard. It took me quite some time to process, digest, and interpret my feelings about this album.

Writing about music that doesn't resonate with you for various reasons is never easy. However, I am also a believer in life's challenges and that you don't grow by only doing easy things. It took me more than three days, listening to the upcoming 'Desolate Soil' album through different mediums, moods, and locations, and in the end, my heart and brain said different things. Let me explain.

Desolate Soil is a long-play album of 8 tracks, embracing folk metal in its concept. The album musically incorporates a folk foundation with progressive, symphonic, gothic, melodic, epic, and death metal elements, offering a dynamic journey throughout. While maintaining the album's concept between songs, the journey is very satisfying with the richness provided. You additionally get to hear the best examples of death, epic, and progressive metal backed by symphonic instrumentation, where the band shows potential not only with their vocal performances but also with such fascinating instrumentation, which plays a major role in the outcome. Although the project have two exceptional vocalists, the album's spectrum isn't limited to taking vocals as a foundational element, but as a supporting one, which shows so much confidence.

Moreover, the instrumentation is quite unbelievable with its spectrum, giving life to every single song throughout the album. This is unmistakably one of the things where Vespertine shows true potential, at a level that you get too see such advanced level usually from established bands. It is quite mind-blowing to think about how much time they spent writing, recording, and producing such massively detailed work. The collective deserves much respect, especially considering this is only a passion project not created for financial purposes.

Lastly, I had an easy listening experience with the sounds of 'Desolate Soil.' From a technical standpoint, everything sounded secure and well-balanced, making the album appealing to both metal and general music listeners, despite its musical aggression and extremity. Although it contains heavy guitars and death growling vocals, 'Desolate Soil' positions itself as a contender for soundtrack music as well. It earned my highest regard with the number of qualities it offers.

Vespertine, band photo art Credit: Unknown

On the other side of the coin, I experienced two major issues that I would like to share. Firstly, I found it difficult to appreciate the sound character of 'Desolate Soil,' mainly due to its home-studio-recording quality and aesthetics. It was too obvious that most instruments sounded overly digitalized and processed, lacking any live feeling. As a composer and performer, I stopped enjoying digital sounds a long time ago, and regrettably, 'Desolate Soil' has exactly what I prefer to avoid in its sound.

Secondly, the album incorporates familiar and traditional elements that were a bit too predictable for me, so I must admit it didn't resonate with me for its musical language in general. Despite Vespertine blending Western and Eastern influences and Scandinavian and European folklore elements, I regrettably don't feel an urge to revisit it anytime soon.

Vespertine Desolate Soil album front cover artwork

New single; "Twilight State (The Vespertine)" will be released on February 2nd, 2024.

In conclusion, 'Desolate Soil' by Vespertine is a commendable effort in symphonic folk metal, showcasing a masterful blend of diverse metal styles professionally enriched with intricate folk elements. Although its digital sound and somewhat predictable musical language may not resonate with all listeners, it impresses with its conceptual ambition and the breadth of its musical palette, demonstrates their potential in the folk metal scene with so much room to improve. Thank you for reading.

Vespertine on the Web


Listen to Metalhead Community's Monsters of Metal Underground playlist on Spotify