DVNE – Etemen Ænka
Anyone who attended ProgPower Europe in 2018, may have caught DVNE on the Sunday afternoon of the festival. I remember being fascinated by guitarist/vocalist Victor Vicart’s nine string guitar. Fortunately, due to the many photos I took of the band, I was able to identify this unusual beast (the guitar that is, not Victor). It is a custom-made model made by Gordon Smith Guitars. Said beast is a sort of a hybrid resembling something between a six and twelve string guitar, with only the three higher strings being doubled up.
“Etemen Ænka” is the band’s second album, and we are promised titanic heaviness and intricate gentleness with complex lyrical ideas and engaging stories. The stories are based on the genre of sci-fi, such as the epic Dune by Frank Herbert, where indeed the band get their name from (not that I really need to point that out). It focuses on social issues and more specifically on inequalities and the human relationship with power. Victor sums it up with these words, “It’s an album that has a narrative musically, and we hope will encourage the listener to explore the universe we’ve created around it.”
The opening track ‘Enūma Eliš’ has a theme that perhaps warrants exploration. It concerns the Babylonian creation myth as set down in the Enūma Eliš, which has about a thousand lines and is written in Akkadian using cuneiform script on seven clay tablets. An atmospheric fade in explodes into a wall of sound, giving us the first taste of the heavier side of the album. This intensity continues in ‘The Tower’ which is inspired by the books Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds and Altered Carbon by Richard K Morgan.
DVNE – Towers (click her if the video does not play)
‘Court of the Matriarch’ has a more varied structure, with some of those gentle intricate parts that were alluded to earlier. ‘Weighing of the Heart’ is a complete contrast to the previous tracks. It is predominantly synths with spoken words by Lissa Robertson, and it regards another subject worth exploring. The ancient Egyptians believed that the heart recorded all of the good and bad deeds of a person’s life and was required for judgment in the afterlife. The heart of the deceased would be weighed against the feather of Maat (goddess of truth and justice). If a person had led a decent life, the heart balanced with the feather and the soul of the person was deemed worthy of spending forever in paradise. However, if the heart weighed more than the feather of Maat, it was immediately consumed by the monster Ammit.
‘Omega Severer’ was released on a two track EP of the same name back in November 2020. This new version is slightly shorter, but still clocks in at 9:42. Lissa Robertson sings on the album version, and maybe on this YouTube video of the original.
DVNE – Omega Severer (click here if the video does not play)
‘Adræden’ is another atmospheric synth based instrumental, building slowly, it paints a picture straight out of a sci-fi movie. The storyline running through the album follows a civilisation through the centuries. A society where the powerful have ascended through technology to become superior, but less human. ‘Si-XIV’ takes the point of view of the dominated lower classes living in difficult conditions. The superior society relies heavily on the use of technology, while the lower classes are left with outdated tech. The mood of the track switches several times, sometimes anger, sometimes melancholy and sometimes determination and hope.
DVNE – SÍ-XIV (click here if the video does not play)
A melodic start to ‘Mleccha’ soon turns into a heavier driving riff, which continues for the rest of the song. This is followed by the softest track on the album ‘Asphodel’, featuring once more, Lissa Robertson on vocals with a haunting synth background from Evelyn May. This rolls over into the last and longest song ‘Satuya’. The bulk of this final epic is heavy, lively, and rhythmic, almost hypnotic. Around 9 minutes in, it fades into a soft, slightly eerie finale.
The band are busy making plans for a tour, and plan on getting more creative with their shows. “We want it to complete our vision of this album and expand its concept visually to our audience.” That’s something we concert goers are hoping returns very soon. The determination and imagination of bands such as DVNE should be encouraged and applauded.
- Enūma Eliš
- Court of the Matriarch
- Weighing of the Heart
- Omega Severer