There are certain in moments in life when you wait for “something”, even if you cannot really pinpoint what that “something” is. This is the case with YOVEL and their sophomore album Forthcoming Humanity. To complicate things further, you did not even know you were waiting for it.
This is concept album but I do not remember (or even being aware of) a similar effort from a metal band. Let alone a black metal band. Paraphrasing but trying to be faithful to the description, it is an album based on the magnificent output of a brilliant poet of Revolution and Love with the band creating a singular narrative, spanning different times, places and struggles. The poet in question is Tassos Leivaditis [1922 – 1988], a prominent Greek revolutionary and according to the band there was no other path to be taken but to base the full album on revolutionary literature (and poetry). So, this is a tribute; YOVEL say it is a conclusion. I say it is an emotionally supercharged album, it makes me feel in ways very similar to the ones Peripeteia by ANAGNORISIS achieved years ago.
Even for the underground audience beyond the borders of their native country, this album will be difficult to “accept”. People will just say there are too many unplugged sessions and “too much” of spoken word (with unplugged sound in many occasions) in a language most are not familiar with and having an underlying message many will probably dislike. I suspect YOVEL do not care about all of this. In my brutally honest, truthful opinion, I do not either.
The metal parts are unmistakably black metal, very aggressive black metal. It is also black metal away from to the Hellenic style and notion most people are familiar with. In my humble opinion this album is not for fans of MACABRE OMEN, VARATHRON or NECROMANTIA and other signature sound bands. People must not expect that just because the band comes from the same country; they will be disappointed. This is the black metal interpretation of YOVEL.
Nonetheless, when the moments come and they are many, riff after riff, tremolo nail after tremolo nail, YOVEL woven a complex musical background and built walls of sound where the revolutionary narrative can expand upon it comfortably. On top the production is superb and sound engineering is top of the class. Mind though YOVEL is still independent, there is no support by a label and resources a label can bring. In addition, I think the band members distaste raw or lo-fi influences that have become increasingly common these days. It is evident they do not shy from difficulty and they like to produce complex structures by altering formats including speed, heaviness and ferocity.
Tracks like “Chapter II – Peace” and “Chapter IV – To Arms” simply provide the unsuspected listener with clear heads-up of what this band is musically capable of and how the like to unfold black metal and serve the core of Forthcoming Humanity. They pave the way to the fifth chapter, “Epitaph” which in many aspects is the pivotal point and probably magnum opus of the album. And as if all these are not enough, the next track features Ayloss and it feels he influences in ways that go beyond of a mere guest appearance. This piece has become my absolute favourite of the record. Simply put, “Chapter VI – So, our flags are born” is sacred hatred and its blackened militancy echoes on the walls of huge domes carved by the sweat and blood of the oppressed of this world.
This album is a titanic work done by YOVEL and I can only guess it was a colossal task for everyone involved too. Once again, this is an independent band, no label support, and this is not an easily made album. It feels it cannot be replicated. I am afraid not even by themselves and this alone adds value to what is already an exemplary effort. In a year with a full-blown pandemic still raging this band found courage, strength and above all, extraordinary will, to produce an unparalleled album awakening consciousness to those who are willing to listen to their call.
My concluding thoughts: As many contemporary black metal scenes tend to become oceans of auto-imploding, self-inflicting misery and in many occasions form lo-fi black holes of meaningless abyssal misanthropy, here comes an album out of nowhere and erupts as brilliantly as a gamma-ray burst to shine upon real struggles, real fights, past and current.
YOVEL put it well, is black metal for the oppressed. Probably because the black metal genre has become so uniquely diverse and some of its branches evolve separately; they diverge away from the one-dimensional paradigm of first-world-problems troubled kids from the cold north burning churches, to become fertile ground for the universal cause for human decency and dignified living. And to make things more political as Forthcoming Humanity calls for, in a time and age when even extreme right boot-boys can claim to be alternative (sic!), absurd conspiracy theories reign and people are willing to accept like sheep that Earth is flat because their poorly elected leaders says so, here comes a black metal outfit from Athens waving high the red and black banners of truth.
‘Ετσι γεννήθηκαν οι σημαίες μας / So, our flags were born.
Further reading on Tassos Leivaditis