Vodun – ‘Ascend’ (Album Review)
After spending many years immersed in music, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’ve heard it all. Then, along comes an Afro-psych-doom band interpreting an assortment of mythical spirits, employing a dairy farm’s worth of cowbell while deep-pocketed riffs batter your ears into submission and a soul vocalist howls and wails over the top.
If normal is boring (and let’s be honest, it normally is), then Vodun are not.
Having overcome Second Album Syndrome by paying additional attention to detail and spending extra time tinkering in the studio, Vodun have stepped up and put together a set of tracks that build and massively improve upon debut effort Possession. New guitar wizard Linz Hamilton adds plenty of extra weight to an already impactful sound, fully filling out a lineup completed by super-aggressive drummer Zel Kaute and frontwoman Chantal Brown. Lyrically, Ascend centres itself around political themes encompassing current events, female strength, and reminders that despite all the shit that currently afflicts our society, it’s not as if this is the first time that fascism, prejudice, and general idiocy have become serious threats to those who like to live free from oppressive control.
In a world increasingly given to regimented conformity, it’s refreshing to see people standing out and making a serious statement – and Ascend is crammed with miniature manifestos. Whether saluting feminine power on Started From, paying tribute to wise elders on For Your Kin, or rocking virtuosically through Spirits Past (produced by BRIT winner and Royal Blood associate Tom Dalgety), Vodun consistently stay on top of their game across all ten tracks. In terms of musicianship, the labyrinthine Time Honoured – not to mention the impressive guitar-drum duel that pops up during Rituals – would be tough for all but the most advanced prog beards to beat, and a full list of “holy fuck” moments would double the length of this review and make it much less readable.
If you can’t stand the status quo, crave fresh and original music, and don’t hate the cowbell, Vodun and Ascend are worth getting into. For that matter, you can always fast-forward the cowbell bits anyway. So there you go. No excuses for not getting involved.
LTK RATING: 8/10
Ascend drops September 7; pre-order it on iTunes.
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