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Decent Black/Noise, Botched Demon Summoning - 77%

Apteronotus, April 15th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2016, Digital, Independent (Bandcamp)

Vessel of Iniquity’s self titled EP jumped out at me because I was familiar with some of the work of the solo project’s creator, S.P. White. Most notable in my memory were his contributions to the NULLL Collective (no, the extra L isn’t a typo). The NULLL Collective’s distinctive funeral doom versions of Christmas songs were genuinely good music, well beyond the amusing distractions that one may expect from such a gimmicky concept. The reason I mention this is because Vessel of Iniquity’s version of noisey black metal draws on a lot of the strengths that are also important in funeral doom. Whether you have sparse slow notes or a chaotic mess, it’s often important to keep an overall rich sound/atmosphere to supplement the downplayed emphasis on melody. With Vessel of Iniquity, S.P. White once again delivers.

The best comparison I can give is to the project La Torture Des Ténèbres. Frankly, Vessel of Iniquity has a better take on this particular niche sound because the wash of high-pitched tremolo picked notes always has a very clear melodic character. Although a major similarity between the two projects is the ringing quality that the guitars tend to have, with Vessel of Iniquity it doesn’t raise to a piercing or irritating level. It can be hard to make out tremolo picking from the dizzying wall of frequencies, but those frequencies do clearly change in recognizable ways, and you could even accurately call them “riffs.” Another strength is how ambient sections break up the EP without becoming overbearing or coming out of left field; they never constitute a major portion of the song but still effectively control the pacing.

The major issue I have with this EP is how on the last track “Choronzon” the three syllables of the song’s title are almost constantly repeated. It happens, I don’t know, it’s like five million times. The song is around six and a half minutes long and when the dry chanting stops after half-way through, I am still angry enough about it to be upset when it comes back in the outro. I totally understand wanting to get some kind of ritualistic chant vibe going, but “Choronzon” really missed the mark with these vocals. It’s basically the Stewie Griffin “mom, mom, mom...” approach to summoning a demon. Other than that diversion, the vocals are fairly standard hawkish black metal rasps that add a nice textural layer to the already crowded high-end.

I’d really like to see what S.P. White could do with this project, and for him to really flesh it out rather than leave this EP as a one-off in his rather large body of work. But, if you are into black/noise stuff at all this is a solid way to spend 15 minutes.

Originally written for Contaminated Tones.