As someone with an aggressively short attention span, my patience for death metal often wears thin...quite quickly. If a death project doesn't offer significant meathooks alongside some notable variety in the compositional department, I'm usually good for a track or two before something weirder--and hence more entertaining--inevitably beckons.
My rubric, then, for determining whether or not a given death metal release is enjoyable? Pretty simple: if I'm willing to listen to it without interruption for long enough to formulate some thoughts and write a review,* we're in the clear. Luckily for us all, the self titled debut EP from the UK's Vaticinal Rites made the cut.
On their first outing, which consists of a classic 3-tracks-plus-an-intro, Vaticinal Rites delives something that seemingly pays homage to the classics a la Disincarnate, Dead Congregation, and perhaps Death Courier, albeit with a slight modern polish. While the songwriting feels tastefully OSDM, the aesthetic is fresh and deliciously pummeling. If you enjoy European death metal spawned (and arguably perfected) in the mid 90's, there's not much here that won't appeal. That, of course, is an intentionally broad statement, so to get a little more granular: if you're a fan of the old school Hellenic tendency to throw a darkly gothic vibe into the mix, all the better. No doubt about it, this crew isn't simply breaking out the caveman riffs and calling it a day. The solos and thrashy leads throughout add a flashy flair, and, to balance it all out, there are distinctly downtrodden moments as well. Look to the back half of (highlight track) "Flesh Portal" for a prime example of Vaticinal Rites' gloomier inclinations.
The vocal, drum, and guitar work? All on point. These guys rip and tear through each track with a confidence that is pretty damn impressive for a band formed a year ago. While a little more presence in the low end would lend the whole affair a little more weight and belligerence, there's just not much to complain about in terms of performance. Over the course of multiple listens, each song does feel quite distinct, and I have little doubt that a certain grab-you-by-your-throat immediacy and memorability will become more apparent once Vaticinal Rites have a few more tracks under their collective belt.
On that note, I really hope more is in the works--I would happily listen to a full album of this stuff. For me, at least, that's pretty decent indication that that Vaticinal Rites is chock full o' enjoyable moments. At just under 12 minutes, it's absolutely worth checking out for any fan of death metal that plays to the established template. There may be a veritable horde of bands playing music along similar lines at this point in metal history, but a glut of material doesn't detract from the quality of the individual component parts. Vaticinal Rites are well situated to bust skulls and make name for themselves. Keep an eye out.
Vaticinal Rites - Vaticinal Rites will be released Nov. 12th, 2021 from Redefining Darkness Records & Caligari (CD + Cassette | N. America); Dry Cough Records (Cassette | Europe). Find it on bandcamp here!
*usually 10 listens, give or take
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that wakes us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.