Vulture – Oblivious to Ruin (27 March 2012, Innervenus Music Collective)
I’d to apologize to you in advance for the following review, because what I am about to bring to your attention is going to seriously fuck up the rest of your day.
Today marks the official release of Oblivious to Ruin, the debut LP from “Steel City Sludge” purveyors Vulture. These Pittsburgh natives have been around for a few years now — they had previously recorded a self-titled EP at the end of 2008 with a different singer (this was recorded in Virginia with the assistance of Gwar‘s late guitarist Cory Smoot). The following year, though, they swapped for new frontman Justin Erb, and soon started working on new material.
The first material anyone heard out of this revised line-up was the track they recorded in early 2011, exclusively for the Iron Atrocity Vol. 1 compilation: “Prick of Misery” . That song was definitely one of the highlights from that collection, so of course I was excited not long after that when I learned Vulture had teamed up with Innervenus to put together a full-length album.
The band returned to the same studio in Akron, Ohio, where “Prick” had been recorded, and once again they worked with Complete Failure‘s James Curl. After hammering away at it through August and October 2011, Oblivious to Ruin is now ready to be unleashed upon a thoroughly unsuspecting public.
First of all, I’d like to express my appreciation to the band for making my job a whole lot easier. By including this quote from The Exorcist III as a sample to lead off opening track “This Beautiful Infection,” they’ve essentially written the review for me. After all, I could never think of a better way to describe the sound of this album, than “Death, disease, injustice, inhumanity, torture, anger, hate; murder, pain, cruelty, infidelity; slime, stink, every crawling putrid thing, every possible ugliness and corruption.”
That, plus a “recommended if you like: EYEHATEGOD,” and what more do I need to say, really?
I’m kidding, of course. I could probably go on for another thousand words about this album — although I promise I’ll try to fight the urge. The fact is, this is a seven-track, forty-minute, perfect embodiment of the concept of what “sludge” should be. A lot of people — and I’m as guilty of this as anyone — throw that word around a lot when talking about slow and heavy music. But the true meaning goes far beyond that; the images that are conjured by the name of this genre are filthy, nasty, covered in mud and slime. That’s what you get here — in addition to being heavy as a prehistoric pachyderm, the sound brings all the dirt and grime you could ever hope for, like the remains of that animal after being dug out of the bottom of a tar pit.
This album, on the whole, is kind of like re-recording side “B” of Paranoid, but with the distortion on everything turned up to eleven. The opening riffs of the title track have the bass and guitar lines sneaking through each other, reminisent a bit of the main riff in “Hand of Doom” — especially when you figure in the slightly funky drum part laid overtop here. But then things switch direction pretty quickly and the tempos abruptly change, just like they do at numerous points throughout this album (one of my favorite examples of this is the middle section of “Dead Sea” where the vocals drop out and the drums turn very minimal and slow; everything has a very ominous feel to it, and it seems almost on the verge of all the parts falling completely apart), and just like they did in plenty of Sabbath songs (like the one just mentioned, or “Fairies Wear Boots” is another that comes to mind).
All throughout this record, the predominant sensation is one of pain and misery. The guitars sound almost like basses, while the bass just feels like a punch in the gut. The overdriven bass that opens “Coming Storm,” and is highlighted in “Bedridden” (as well as brief flashes in other songs) hits pretty hard below the belt, and once you layer the barrage of drums and guitars on top of that — well, if the fabled “brown note” did exist (they disproved it on Mythbusters, but if it did…), I’m sure it would be found somewhere on Oblivious.
The real agony, though, comes through in the vocals. Especially as the end of the album approaches, as in the case of the scream that happens somewhere around the middle of “Bedridden” and sounds more tortured and anguished than should be possible from any person, unless the person producing that sound was literally on fire at the time. And that’s only the penultimate track; by the time the closer “Apathetic Life” rolls around, the vocals actually sound like someone who is on the brink of ending it all.
If you are hoping for anything uplifting, melodic, or cheerful, you will be rather disappointed. But for those who like their music dark and doomy, with plenty of raw power and bone-crushing heaviness, you’ll find a lot to like about Vulture.
Get Oblivious to Ruin on CD today… click here to visit the Innervenus store!
Vulture’s self-titled EP release is also available to purchase in the same location (under the category “Innervenus Distribution”), as well as their “Steel City Sludge” t-shirt!
If you prefer a digital copy of the album instead, you can also download it from Amazon, here.
And finally, if you still don’t have the Iron Atrocity Vol. 1 compilation of Pittsburgh-area metal, download it here! Still free, still awesome.