Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Vykanthrope - The Devil's Waiting ... (album review)

I promise I'm not going to make this review all about the Paranoid blog ... BUT, we're now getting to a time when the bands that are featured here were founded after the blog started up.  It's hard to wrap my mind around that.  This bone-jarring quartet sails down in their long ships from Evansville, Indiana to make it two such bands in two days (the other being Earth Witch).  They label their music as "viking war doom", so don't take it from me, but this five song E.P. is loaded with berserker fury.  They don't do it with hellfire spitting tempos, but a white-knuckled intensity.  Henry Rollins once reportedly heard The Obsessed described as something like "'somebody getting angry really slowly.'  And the man that's slow to anger stays angry for a very long time", and I think that applies here.

There are moments here so brutal and animalistic you might think the band name is a misnomer and that they are reduced at times to the aspect of ravenous quadrupeds (see "The Devil's Waiting").  But there's more to this band than seething anger.  Opening track "Witch of Circumstance" combines a powerful riff with a strong vocal performance that is both melodic and forceful.  Drums and vocals carry much of the weight during the verse as the guitar drops off to a simmering drone.  The guitar then slips into a psychedelic lead thus revealing a wide spectrum of abilities and styles on display.  And that's just the first five minutes.  Talk about a statement!

"The Wizard" picks up on those psychedelic tendencies and exposes them in a blue light, crafting a slow bass-dominated psychedelic blues groove seasoned in cavernous echo framed around a Black Sabbath-like fantasy vocal.  The fury then boils to the surface during the chorus, first picking up the pace, then pouring on the heaviness before kicking into a smoking lead.  By now the band has come a long way moving through various shapes and styles, but the best and most memorable is yet to come.

"Viking's Witch" and title track "The Devil's Waiting" are like parts 1 & 2 of the same song, one leading into the next.  "Viking's Witch" has a killer slidey riff and has a strong Red Fang feel to the vocals.  The band knows how to bludgeon their way into your mind like an iron fist with a drop off and pick up syncopation during the chorus near the end of the song ("Wait!  Wait!  Wait!").  "The Devil's Waiting" may not be the best, but it is certainly the most memorable song of the bunch.  With no time between tracks a drop in tempo and jumping straight into the verse "God damn fucking son of a bitch, she said / Who the fuck does he think he is?" it'll have you checking to make sure this isn't just another section of the same song.

Again, the band cover many hectares of musical ground on just under 22 minutes and do it within a signature framework.  'The Devil's Waiting' is a strong introduction to a band that was just a twinkle in the eyes of its founders when this blog was new (god damn, man, [sniffle] we were all so much younger then ...).  The sheer volume of ideas, styles and memorable moments on this E.P. combined with a number of solid, key riffs flag Vykanthrope as one of the most promising new bands in the stoner / doom genre.  Now's the time to jump on board the bandwagon (or viking ship), I would if I was you, after all I'd hate to cross swords with these animals.

Highlights include: "Witch of Circumstance" and "Viking's Witch / The Devil's Waiting"

Rating: 4.5/5

Total Run Time: 21:44

From: Evansville, Indiana

Genre: Doom, Stoner Metal

Reminds me of: Ancient Warlocks, Breathe Fire, Earth Witch, Red Fang, Wounded Giant

Release Date: December 21, 2013

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