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Vesicant > Shadows of Cleansing Iron > Reviews
Vesicant - Shadows of Cleansing Iron

Behold war and succomb to its might. - 88%

Azgeyst, December 14th, 2017

Ah, New Zealand. There has to be something in the air down there, because the amount of outstanding music coming from that country and neighboring Australia is nothing short of astounding. And no, unlike other countries that spring forth a brilliant and original band resulting in every other band from that country feebly trying to copy said original band, the lands down under have managed to spawn quite a few truly original sounds, all in the realm of murky, cavernous black/death metal (and that is, mind you, the best kind of black/death metal. It is wholly different from that trendy, shitty Poland-Core garbage more or less popularized on the Warped tour that uncle Roy uses to entice teenage girls at the mall). No, dear reader. The music being churned out at a truly admirable pace by covens such as, among many others, Vassafor, Temple Nightside, Impetuous Ritual, the criminally underrated Sinistrous Diabolus, Grave Upheaval, Ill Omen, Diocletian, Ulcerate and now also Vesicant, is distinct not merely because it sounds supremely heavy in an age of unbearably bland and sterile trash passing itself off as music, where the prime goal of the artist is to churn out uninspired, tasteless and utterly predictable riffs as an excuse to go on constant tours and feel like a rockstar and, of course, sell lots of sick merch to get paid. Because the main goal is to get paid, not to make punishing music of death, right? What makes artists such as those cited above stand out is how they go about their craft with supreme dedication, an eye for detail in songwriting, arranging their compositions and production, but most importantly, inspiration and class.

As for Vesicant specifically, this is some truly dank death metal. Mind you, this isn't your father's Florida death metal centered around having fun and cool zombie stories, rather it is a much darker, more sinister and serious beast. Which is of little surprise, considering the two gentlemen involved as well as the label that released this work, Germany's Iron Bonehead Productions. Lyrically, the group tackles topics surrounding the First World War and what a bummer that was for soldiers. Although not necessarily an outstanding or original topic, Vesicant knows how to competently construct tales from the battlefield and arrange them in a way that is immediately gripping. What separates this band from others of the genre, however, is the music and how they chose to mix this album. The super high end frequencies laced on the guitars, combined with their general bombast from a beefy low end that is elegantly complemented by bass, is simply beautiful. The drums appropriately sound like crushing war drums of doom, with a pummeling snare and a truly muddy, heavy bass drum. I should note that this is a pleasant change of pace from current modern metal production standards, where the kick drum in particular is mixed to be a clicky pile of horse manure, doubtless because the band is sick of hearing their drummers' bitching about how "nobody can hear the intricacies of my double kick strokes otherwise!" Boo-hoo. Vesicant doesn't care about such trivial nonsense, instead they focus their energies on producing original, grotesque and simultaneously catchy riffs that manage to be violent and eerie at the same time. The switch to doomy open notes toward the final third of "Blood Miller" serves as a wonderful example of their songwriting- and riffcraft. Instead of having lame blasting drum beats that just meander along without meaning, Vesicant chooses to actually compose all instruments, giving their songs wonderful depth that is so sorely missing from many modern metal releases. In this way, their drum rolls and fills actually have purpose and the instruments complement each other beautifully, allowing for an exciting and engaging listening experience. These dudes know what they're doing.

"Ok ok, I get it, Vesicant rules and makes wonderful, refreshing choices in songwriting and production. But", you doubtlessly now ask, "what about the vox?" Indeed, a justified question, as excellent music with unbearably terrible vox is about as pleasant as watching some astonishingly superficial, French/eastern European militant gym bro national(ist) [socialist] propaganda movie with really contemporary and thought provoking ideas that nobody has ever heard about before and which makes them totally hardcore and edgy [irony off], so edgy in fact, that people watching the movie will without a doubt be compelled to pick up sick militant gym bro merch because nothing screams Aryan supremacy more than not having a neck. Luckily, the vox presented by the gentlemen of Vesicant fit the music perfectly. Be it through devastating, barbaric howls of death or semi-clean shouts of morbid despair, the approach taken here by Profanus and Mordance is simply brilliant and compliments the music surrounding it perfectly. The only issue I have with this album is that certain - albeit few - riffs contained on here don't quite grip me as much as others, which makes sense from a songwriting perspective, as it allows the truly devastating riffs to really draw you in, but basically makes listening to the entire album in a single sitting mandatory, lest you be left somewhat unsatisfied. However, the passion on display here is obvious and comes through in all aspects of the music. As such, "Shadows of Cleansing Iron" is an admirable work more than worthy of purchase.

-Az

(Originally published at www.goatstapo.blogspot.com)

Shadows of Cleansing Iron - 86%

Twin_guitar_attack, July 24th, 2017

After kicking up a noisy black/death metal racket on 2014’s two track cassette demo Edict, New Zealand’s Vesicant have since gone from a three piece to a two piece and unleashed their first full length effort Shadows of Cleansing Iron upon an unsuspecting world. Where the aforementioned demo was a noisy, brash and decent if ultimately a bit forgettable 8 minutes of madness, this full length sees a thorough refinement in everything – song writing, atmosphere, production and instrumentation and it’s a blistering work of death-doom metal with plenty of black metal atmosphere. Vesicant take their name from the group of chemical weapons that includes the deadly mustard gas used to horrifying effect in the first world war, and their music is suitably corrosive, blistering and caustic.

If one wanted to be overly simplistic one could put the roots of Vesicant’s music as a blend of the death-doom sounds of Australia’s Disembowelment and the cavernous sound of US brutal-death metal group Incantation. The dark, melancholic and depressive atmosphere of the former, combined with the dank wall of sound approach of the latter are certainly present in the music presented on Shadows of Cleansing Iron but there’s a lot more to it than that. For one thing Vesicant never relent on the intensity as Disembowelment did during the melodic breaks on the seminal Transcendence into The Peripheral, in fact they don’t go in for a lot of melody at all, it’s a fast and corrosive sea of churning guitar notes flinging themselves against the cavernous walls of the production, occasionally with the seas calming slightly with haunting, dark and eerie dissonant chords crashing slowly but powerfully against the edge.

But despite their propensities for walls of sound, the production is by no means a mess, neither the musicianship sloppy. The riffs in Dismal Oubilette are fast and technical, not just a few short tremolo picked riffs, but a clever and considered carefully manufactured assault, along with some ridiculously fast blastbeats with a monolithically heavy sound pounding down uncomfortably on your grey matter. When the drums go into this repetitive assault it’s absolutely barbaric. The bass rumbles ferociously with more emphasis on tone than any melody, with the power and intensity of an earthquake, and the incomprehensible vocals are your standard fare for this kind of music, incomprehensible rasping howls are mixed in among low guttural roars sounding more beast than man, not overly ferocious, as if the hounds of Hades were growling rather than barking. It does fit the music well without being anything special.

The slow doomy sections on each of the songs, are great, especially as most bands use them as something of a breather from the fast and caustic parts – here the dissonant haunting riffs and claustrophobic guitar sound, with the chords ringing out and echoing around sound utterly misanthropic, bleak and devoid of all light, a different kind of assault on the senses from the clattering walls of sound during the rest of the songs. In terms of songs it’s hard to pick a favourite here, whether the eerie tremolo picked melody on Carnage Ascended leading into some of the most blunt and clattering assaults on the album, the oceanic gloom in the middle of Enceladus, the dark atmospheres of Blood Miller, or the migraine inducing causticness of the closer Excoriation (surely a Disembowelment reference) every track is as bleak as it is brutal.

Shadows of Cleansing Iron is equal parts bleak and brutal in an unrelenting and despairing trip through dark caverns and murky churning seastorms. Oceanically heavy and claustrophobic it’s almost a challenge to listen to all the way through but for an utter assault on the senses Vesicant have released a truly formidable debut effort.

Originally written for swirlsofnoise.com