Agg by PerihelionRelease date: December 6, 2019
I first reviewed Perihelion in 2017 with their previous release Örvény, and what drew me in with that album was the otherworldliness of it, not least because of the vocals being entirely in Hungarian, but also their soaring, uplifting ‘thunderous melody’, as I put it back then. They put me in mind of Otta-era Sólstafir, and still do, and they deserve a listen for that alone. Örvény is an accomplished album that I still play now, and I was very much looking forward to what the band did next.
Agg cuts in with a much harder edge: first track ‘Tavasszal a vadak’ pounds from the get-go, with Gyula Vasvári’s usually clean and melodic vocals sounding particularly tortured. This is the heaviest track of theirs that I’ve heard to date, but behind it all there is still a ton of melody, and during the heaviest riffing there is a thread of a guitar melody that picks its way through and keeps the music sounding somehow ‘spacey’. The music remains heavy post-rock rather than post-metal, to my ears. The sonic attack that we hear in the first track mellows somewhat from then on. The venom shown at the start gives way to a more wistful state. The vocals are at times pleading and urgent, at times mournful and sometimes soaring. As with any band singing in a language that you don’t understand, one listens to the tone of the singer’s voice for some clue about the meaning of the words, or the feeling being conveyed. So it is here, and the guy’s voice is beautiful, I have to say.
It’s hard to pick out highlights from an album so consistently strong, and which is woven together so well to make a complete work. The songs flow one into the next, carrying the listener along. Third track ‘Erdő’ is mid-paced and melodic, with the vocals foremost and a driving rhythm section that adds a lot of weight and bass to the song. ‘Parázs’ is more urgent but with a lot of ambience between the guitar passages. ‘Bérc’ takes the openness and ambience much further, with a picked guitar line and lots of swirling synth.
Soaring is a word that could be overused to describe the music but Perihelion are very good at weaving light, almost psychedelic melodies into the mix, which really do make the music soar. This is coupled with a distinctive guitar tone that is very familiar from Örvény and a song-writing talent that keeps the tunes varied in terms of pace, with plenty of interludes and atmospheric passages. The product is an album which, like the last, comes across as a very skilfully crafted package of textures, atmospheres and melodies.
If I had one criticism I’d say that apart from the blasting first track, Agg does feel a little like Örvény part 2. The band’s sound I love, but I was hopeful for some development to see where they might go next. The quality of the songs and the whole album is beyond doubt, but it is perhaps also the sound of Perihelion playing it quite safe. But they do what they do very well, of that there is no doubt.
So in sum, give some hard-working Hungarian musicians some of your dosh and buy Agg on Bandcamp. Get Örvény too. It would be money very well spent.