Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Some of the best melodic metal this year. - 95%

Empyreal, June 5th, 2017
Written based on this version: 2017, CD, Hellfire Records

It’s been six years since we got any new material from ambitious Aussie power-metallers Vulvagun, but this new album The Painful Road to Eden is more than worth the wait. These guys have a wacky-sounding name, but like on their stellar debut Cold Moon Over Babylon, they remain dedicated to well-written, atmospheric heavy metal that walks its own path.

This band is all about heavy, chugging riffwork and the clarion-call Dickinson/urban breed-esque vocals of frontman Wayne Dwyer. On their last album they wrote long, atmospheric songs that worked on building momentum amid repetition, but this one is a bit more traditional - the songs are shorter and more uptempo, with a lot of great riffs that recall the classic metal bands of the 80s, from Maiden to Accept to even early Metallica, circa Ride the Lightning or so. There’s not much adornment or gimmickry here - Vulvagun are somewhat of a minimalist act, focusing on stripped-down songs that rely on deceptively simple riffs and choruses that will get lodged in your head fairly easily, as Dwyer has a taste for deliciously hooky melodies. But there is more complexity here than initially meets the eye, as the songs are written with a lot of care and imbued with dark, seething melodies and subtle build-ups that more attentive listeners will come to appreciate with time.

I like how involved and detailed these songs are for the fact that they really do not utilize much outside influence - every song is different, from the speedy 2000s-style power metal of opener “The Stinking Low Tide” to the pounding classic-metal riff and chorus combo of “Leeches” to the thrashy guitar passages that make up much of “Prelude To An Earthquake,” and everything else in between on the other songs, including some absolutely furious uptempo tracks like “Instant Hate Response” that are nothing like what this band did on the debut. What it sounds like to me is a band that clearly loves heavy metal music and wanted to dabble in a bit of everything.

Comparisons can be made to Tad Morose in the dark, chugging riff-style and modern Agent Steel in the more uptempo moments, but Vulvagun is pretty squarely their own thing, with a feel for apocalyptic-sounding choruses that build and build like cathedrals, with elaborate, powerful melodies backing up every song. “The Spirit Of The Beehive” is 100% Vulvagun, with an unassuming riff and chorus combo that grows on you the more you hear it, and “…Said The Spider To The Fly” is a hypnotic, pounding tune with ominous vocal lines and swirling melodies to spare. Then at the end of the album you get “Old Creeping Jesus,” a crawling doom-laden track with a ton of atmosphere, and “There Are Worse Things Waiting,” an eruption of power and melody that ends the album on an unforgettable note.

It’s pretty hard not to just mention every song on here as a standout, as they really are all that good - this is just an excellent album of well-constructed, no-frills power metal by a band that seems wholly devoted to just putting out great fucking music. This was worth the six-year wait. It may not appeal to people who are into flashy gimmicks and shallow tricks in their power metal, but for those who want music written with intelligence and care and nuance, Vulvagun is your best bet. Definitely a highlight in 2017 for melodic metal so far.