Vukovar – Cremator (Other Voices Records)
LP / CD / Cassette / DL
24 May 2019
Genre defying, experimentalists return with their seventh album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.
Never has the phrase ‘quality over quantity’ been turned so much on its head than with the current output of North Western doom purveyors Vukovar. Less than six months since the release of last long-player Monument, they rise one more like a proverbial phoenix out of the ashes of their previous incarnation with new found vigour and intent in the form of Cremator.
Their seventh album sees a change of personnel marking the initial passing of the band and their re-emergence featuring Simon Morris (The Ceramic Hobs) and Holly Hero (Smell & Quim) on vocals and voice to create a fine mix of experimental and doom influenced but high reaching alternativist. Since the bands inception in 2014 they have worked with the likes of Michael Cashmore (Current 93, Nature & Organisation), Rose McDowell (Coil, Strawberry Switchblade, Psychic TV) and, up-and-coming spoken word artist Equinox, peaking once more with another fine collection.
With opener Roma Invicta comes the self-explanatory line “everything dies, and so must you” in a cross section of song, speech, pop and thundering backdrop that creates a startling introduction to what is yet to come. Vukovar combine the raw energy of Joy Division with a post-pop edge combining to make a mix of experimentalism and commercialism which has the potential to touch many a heart and soul.
Produced in collaboration with Phil Reynolds (The Dearly Departed, Postcode), Cremator seems to reach an over the top sound with all instruments somehow pushed to the fore at once. It makes for an extraordinary noise, maybe comparable to Spector’s wall of sound, particularly on Internment By Mirrors which turns a bombardment of commotion into an organised riot.
In amongst the anarchy, Vukovar also bring us some fine tunes which are well capable and worthy of major radio airplay. Check out Love’s Provocations and Prurient which provide catchy hooks and choruses which will have your earworms moving in partnership with each other to those startlingly addictive melodies before the likes of the beautiful Tomorrow’s Gone and The Orchids slam on the breaks and bring forth a third side to Vukovar.
Recent single Decameron (Or 10 Days Of Violence) closes the album. An almost nursery rhyme esque piece which drifts in and out skilfully, a gorgeous track which once more brings in Holly Hero together with a snippet of childrens voices. It disappears sumptuously with a little feedback and a little distortion to end a quite brilliant album.
All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop and you can follow him on Twitter as @hiapop, and on Facebook here.