Ved Buens Ende – “Written in Waters”

A New Dimension

If, according to fellow Decibel scribe Chris Dick, black metal was defined in 1994, it was broken in 1995. The previous year had expanded black metal to its furthest reaches. From Frost’s Edvard Grieg-inspired progressive “Viking” leanings to Transilvanian Hunger’s riff hypnosis, the canvas was primed for something new and interesting. Black metal was ready to change, or at least begin making its journey into the new millennium, and a certain trio of Norwegian oddballs was prepared to push the genre forward.

Founding his new project under the moniker Manes (not to be confused with his fellow Norwegian weirdos of the same name), guitarist/vocalist Yusaf “Vicotnik” Parvez’s early ventures into black metal were linear and mechanical, a far cry from what would eventually become Ved Buens Ende just one year later. It wasn’t until 1994’s inclusion of Ulver bassist Hugh “Skoll” Mingay and Aura Noir mastermind Carl-Michael “Aggressor” (otherwise known as “Czral”) Eide that the Ved Buens Ende name took hold, and the first seeds of their peculiar sound sown with demo Those Who Caress the Pale.

Compared to Manes, Those Who Caress the Pale was moody and ethereal, although it contained an undeniable black metal influence. The demo was interesting, a landmark in a still-to-be-defined style of “Norwegian strangeness,” but there were still growing pains—shifting from style to style with a disregard only found in the earliest stages of true creativity. Those Who Caress the Pale bounced between the ethereal and the aggressive with a youthful vigor—it was a sign of things to come.

Written in Waters, released just a year later on the inimitable Misanthropy Records, was a new beast altogether. Zeroing in on the clattering, elegant and bizarre elements of their preceding demo, Ved Buens Ende broke black metal’s mold. Technical in its own right—featuring atypical chord changes and eight-armed drumming—Written in Waters took black metal’s energy and atmosphere and brought it into a unique eventuality. Shedding the baggage of emotion, Ved Buens Ende’s distance resulted in something uniquely hollow, if melancholic and heartbroken.

The impetus for dissonance and eccentricity in black metal, Ved Buens Ende’s unprecedented performance is an acquired taste. Be it Eide’s hypnotic incantations or the woozy, drunken atmosphere that encapsulates Written in Waters as a whole, Ved Buens Ende maintain a distance from black metal, but are still inextricably tied to it all the same. Their output gave birth to the subgenre “post-black metal” (or at least what was called as such after the fact), an avant-garde take on the style defined by such a dichotomy, championed by bands like Arcturus, Fleurety, Solefald, Manes and more. Ved Buens Ende were the beginning.

Written in Waters  was the proverbial “next step.” It took black metal’s fully-defined self and lurched it forward. Rife with head-tilting moments, “What was that?” riffs and a character that wholly belongs to Ved Buens Ende (though there are many pretenders), this was the album that completely revolutionized black metal. What can I say? It’s Magic.

Need more Ved Buens Ende? To read the entire six-page story, featuring interviews with all members on Written in Waters, purchase the print issue from our store, or digitally via our app for iPhone/iPad or Android.