Vile Creature – Cast of Static and Smoke (Halo of Flies (US) / Dry Cough (UK), 09 March 2018)
Today we’ve got another album review for you — and a worthy follow-up to yesterday’s, as this one also contains long, low-tempoed tracks filled with filthy noise and despair. Although it’s actually their second full-length, Cast of Static and Smoke is the first output I’ve heard from these self-described “two weird queer kids with lofty ambitions.” But from that very first listen, Vile Creature grabbed my attention and never let it go throughout four tracks spanning nearly three-quarters of an hour. Let’s dig right in, eh?
Unless I’m already familiar with a band, whenever listening to something new I try to find out as few details as I can — just dropping submissions for review into a download folder and hitting PLAY on each one sequentially — so that I go into it without any preconceived notions, as much as possible. Of course, I’ll end up reading as much as I can about a band after I’ve heard them. In this particular case, it was mildly surprising to learn that for this Ontario, CA-based duo the “CA” stood for Canada rather than California. Just something about the tone of their monolithic, riff-based sludge/doom brought to mind more of a west coast (i.e. Bell Witch / Yob) kind of vibe. Maybe I’m crazy, I don’t know.
For the most part the record combines blackened post-hardcore and doom, with little accents here and there of 90s grunge/alternative metal, topped with throat-shredding shrieks raging against the evils of society and the world in general. As thick as the overall sound is — the balance struck between the simplicity of the instrumentation and the complexity of the arrangements is a thing of beauty — probably the bigger surprise about this album was “recorded live with one guitar, one drum kit.” Although I’m normally not much of a guitar person (many of my favorite bands are also two-pieces but, again to reference Bell Witch as an example, far more often the line-up I prefer is bass/vocals + drums/vocals), the illusion of numerous layers of guitar parts is rather striking. Since the whole thing was recorded live, I have to imagine the signal being split into half a dozen different amp/cabinet stacks, each one heavy as hell on its own, miked separately but then blended back together into a hellacious wall of noise.
I’d also have to imagine, based on the evidence presented here, that would mean the band is really something to behold in a live setting. Sadly, it looks like their current spring tour has nearly wrapped up, but I’ll include details of the final two shows down at the bottom of the page. You can also keep tabs on the duo using the variety of social media links down there, to see when they might be coming back to an area near you.
The album is available right here, or for those who prefer physical copies (the vinyl LP also includes a 16-page booklet containing the full text of the post-apocalyptic short story central to the songs): here (North America) or here (UK/EU).
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Vile Creature Spring 2018 Tour (remaining dates):