(20 Buck Spin, 2013)
#FOR FANS OF: Doom/Death Metal, Lie in Ruins, Vallenfyre
With only six tracks at roughly over a half hour total, this second release from Bay Area Doom/Death newcomers Vastum is about as old-school as it gets. Churning with those heavy, sprawling Doom-laden guitar rhythms that slowly boil over the pounding, heavy drumming and loud, clanking bass-lines, there’s a rather impressive old-school sound that runs throughout the album. While the band can impart a speed to the riffs that makes this approach even deadlier, what really works for them is the fact that they’re so sprawling heavy that the slower tempos and enlarged running time for many of these pieces, since the shortest running time is just a shade under five minutes, allows the compositions time to stew in their dirty, heavy flavor a longer amount of time than most normal old-school Death Metal bands and gives the Doom influence a lot of time to breathe in the action. The heavier, chug-based patterns these employ are more for atmosphere than tempo, as they’re not that fast at all but instead supplement the few speedsters in here with a fluid riffing style that’s absolutely infectious and really makes the question as to why they’re not employed more as they certainly fit the atmosphere quite well but are clearly not as well-versed in the band’s style that they’re more at home on the slower stuff so the competency is certainly there but not put in quite as often as they should’ve been. While all this deep, thumping Doom Metal is going on, the most overt Death Metal influence here is actually the cavernous vocals on display, which are shockingly deep and hoarse and give that extra special touch to the material in helping to cross the boundaries quite well, and overall this provides a pretty decent mixture since it sounds dark and evil against the heavier riffing and sprawling tempos. Surprisingly, the quickness of it works for and against the record at the same time, seemingly set in the bands’ craft and offering some quality songs in a brief, impacting stance that never really gets a chance to instill boredom or restlessness, but yet never gives off a full-length release feel because it’s length is so short due to the limited number of tracks. Intro "Libidinal Spring" is pretty much the standard bearer for what to expect here, with heavy riffs, chugging rhythms and that old-school ‘cavernous’ approach to the vocals that so many modern bands employ, just wrapped up with slower, sprawling tempos and less impact from the Death-ier side of the coin. "Enigma of Disgust" and "Incel" are both pure crawling, epic Doom Metal with Death Metal growls, the former working well with the deeper growls that permeate the first half as the darkened atmosphere and deep vocals mix well together before picking up speed in the later half that really helps to save it from mediocrity while the former gets a little quicker tempo and more time to work in some heavier mid-tempo chugging and psychedelic-like soloing in the later half, therefore being the better of the two. Certainly the first single off this, "3AM in Agony" carries the faster tempos quite well with more intense rhythms and tighter chugging for a faster, more vicious attack than the previous entries but certainly has the toughness and overall heavy riffs to stand against the more Doom-influenced material before it. The churning title track comes close to the speedier side while offering plenty of rumbling bass-lines and heavy, chugging riffs but doesn’t match the power or impact of the previous efforts here despite all the signs displaying a quality track otherwise. The epic finale, "Repulsive Arousal," offers some impressive speed riffing among the heavy, churning drumming and deep, rumbling bass-lines and switches tempos quite well, making for a rather impressive and imposing finale that gets this off with a flurry and ends on a real high note. Overall, this is most assuredly a crushing release with a lot to like but probably could’ve used another track or two to keep from feeling like a stop-gap release or an EP due to the length.