Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Vastum - ‘Hole Below’ (Album Review)

By: Daniel Jackson

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 6/11/2015
Label: 20 Buck Spin



Each member plays so well into all of the others’ strengths that the album feels more like one gigantic being, lurching and smashing in unified movement, rather than five separate pieces trying their best to come together.

Hole Below’ CD//LP//CS//DD track listing:

1. Sodomitic Malevolence
2. Amniosis
3. In Sickness And In Death
4. Intrusions
5. Hole Below (A Dream Of Ritual Abuse)
6. Empty Breast

Vastum is:

Daniel Butler | Vocals
Leila Abdul-Rauf | Guitar, Vocals
Shelby Lermo | Guitar
Luca Indrio | Bass
Adam Perry | Drums

The Review:

As I’m writing this, Vastum’s new album, ‘Hole Below’ has been out for over a month and the praise for it has been substantial. In the interest of telling a complete story about my feelings toward the album, I didn’t really get it at first. My initial thoughts were essentially that it sounded fantastic recording-wise, but that the production was something of a masking agent for a very by-the-numbers death metal album. While there’s no denying that the album is very straightforward from a compositional standpoint, that simplicity also betrays just how clever this album is.

It took a number of listens to really sink in, to the point that when I first tried writing about the album, I was ready to work from the standpoint that some of my fellow metal writers had been dazzled by what is an unquestionably fantastic production job. The truth of it is that I was simply late to the dance in terms of understanding just how strong these songs really are. Vastum seem to have graduated from the Bolt Thrower school of knowing that it can be just as effective making each and every note count as it can be when working with a much more technical formula.

If I have any complaint about the album now, it’s that I wish there was more dark, melodic guitar leads like the one woven throughout the album’s closing song “Empty Breast”. Even there, the leads are deceptively simple, but they’re insanely satisfying from a song writing standpoint. It’s one of many reasons I’m glad I stopped writing that first draft, knowing now that I would have regretted being so negative about an album that didn’t deserve it. Indeed, the whole of the album is absolutely devastating, sonically, and the album’s reserved tempo is one of its strengths rather than a liability. That refusal to go full speed ahead in the drumming allows the songs breathing room rhythmically, and Adam Perry’s loose, natural style behind the kit has a lot to do with why ‘Hole Below’ is such a massive success.

In truth, Vastum is a band with a musical chemistry that very few death metal bands possess. Each member plays so well into all of the others’ strengths that the album feels more like one gigantic being, lurching and smashing in unified movement, rather than five separate pieces trying their best to come together. ‘Hole Below’ is showing up on a lot of year end lists, and I finally get why that is. If you’ve tried this album already and found yourself wondering what the hype was all about. Do yourself a favor and give it more time. I’m happy that I did.

“Hole Below” is available digitally here and a CD/LP/CS copy here.


Band info: Facebook

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