November 13, 2013

Vastum - Patricidal Lust - 3

Written by Red.

Artwork by Paolo Girardi

I can anticipate two things happening upon a listener's first run through Vastum's new album: first, headbanging and air guitar galore. Second, reading the lyrics and going "This is what it's about"?!

It is without a doubt a stark juxtaposition. At least, through the first three tracks. The music is old-school death metal without pretense. It is usually at or around mid-tempo with syncopation that draws the ear toward the massive riffs. "Enigma of Disgust" is a standout track from intro to feedback-washed outro. It is built on a more conventional structure than the rest of the album, with readily identifiable verses, chorus (a particularly powerful one, at that), and a solo that destroys. The leads are double-tracked, bounced to each side of the mix, and usually bathed in wah. If there's a drum beat that is most memorable, it is the kick-snare-double kick-snare combo that is used on a couple of the tracks.

Vastum 2012. Photo by Taylor Keahey.

"Incel" is uglier. There isn't much in the way of ear-grabbing riffing here, just a meditation on involuntary celibacy and the effects it can have on a person. The remaining two tracks are much like the first three. I'd say they're slightly less fun or infectious, though.

When I read through the lyrics while listening to the album, I was disturbed and a bit disgusted. If the purpose of writing these specific lyrics was to provoke such a reaction, then it's a job well done. At the same time, I recognize that they are intelligently written and aren't there merely for shock value, but to explore these topics that most would rather ignore. Underneath the surface of these words seems to rest a desire to confront people with the base and abhorrent things that rest at the core of our being. In this way, it's beyond merely provoking a reaction, but forcing the listener to think.

Vastum 2012. Photo by Taylor Keahey.

The vocal interplay is notable, too. I was trying to figure out the division of labor; there doesn't seem to be one. In fact, it sounds more like "anything you can do, I can do better", with the vocalists trading lines or switching who delivers them seemingly on a whim. I was familiar with Leila's style from listening to Saros; Daniel Butler's style is fittingly old-school, sounding more like he's vomiting the lyrics out of his throat than your conventional death growl.

In the end, what each listener makes of Patricidal Lust will likely depend on the mileage they have with the lyrical content. Musically speaking, there are few, if any flaws. In a year that has seen a resurgence of quality death metal, Vastum has vaulted to the top of the class.

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Tagged with 20 Buck Spin, 2013, death metal, Red, Taylor Keahey, Vastum
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