Monday 17 July 2017

ALBUM REVIEW: Wounded Giant - "Vae Victis"

By: Jay Hampshire

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 01/04/2017
Label: STB Records

there are moments of majestic riffing and an impressive amount of variation on offer

“Vae Victis” DD//CD//LP track listing

1. Vae Victis (9:30)
2. Dysthiest (6:20)
3. Immanentize The Eschaton (Jim Jones Instrumental) (4:43)
4. Scum Of The Earth (7:03)
5. The Room Of The Torch (7:36)
6. Green Scar (6:09)

The Review:

If you’re not up to snuff on your Latin, ‘Vae Victis’, the title of the second full length from Seattle based psych-doomsters Wounded Giant, roughly translates as “woe to the conquered”. While this might conjure images of a record full of mighty battle hymns and victorious fist-pumping metal, the six tracks and near hour of riffing tells a much different story.

The title track opens the show with a ghostly rush, approaching as if from a great distance. It’s loud and immediate, settling into a groove buoyed by tumbling, scattered toms and military snare roll snaps. The main riff grinds and thunders like a slightly slower Slomatics, loping along before locking in and slowing down into an Electric Wizardian buzzing guitar line. When the band start to crawl it’s much more menacing, switching up into tension building section before dropping into a tasty groove with snatches of deep bass. There’s a lot of variation here, but it’s the conclusion of the track where things really pick up, a maze of twin wandering guitars.

‘Dystheist’ is all scuzzy bass and tribal drumming, growling feedback and swaggering guitars pitching the band between a slightly lighter Conan and a less woolly Mastodon. ‘Immanentize The Eschaton’ (you kiss your mother with that mouth?) chimes like an old school Hammond organ, a wah heavy bass undertow and lazy drums joined by punchy chords and a pulsing synth loop, muddled in with vocal samples that too be honest is a tad tough to comprehend.  ‘Scum Of The Earth’ is swollen with sludgy weight, straining vocals riding out the deep, bluesy undertones, a muted chugging drive dragging us through. It’s less changeable and varied than the previous, but the psyched out guitar layers, droning vocals and frantic drumming make it seem like you’re falling into a tunnel of brown acid. ‘The Room Of The Torch’ shimmers and wavers, guitars tentatively licking in, forming into a righteous riff reminiscent of The Sword. Satisfying stuff, energetic and well executed, even if the climax is a little on the standard side.

‘Green Scar’ is slow, foreboding and buzzy. Sighing vocals and striding riffs match pace with restless, cymbal heavy drums, but for the album’s zenith, it seems a little weak and directionless. The latter word is perhaps a decent, if harsh, summary of the record. While there are moments of majestic riffing and canny song structure here (and an impressive amount of variation), there’s no sense of real unification of purpose. Coupled with some vocals that err a little too much on the ‘spirited amateur’ side of things, some lyrics that are a little too ’14 year old writing in the back page of a school book’, plus a music scene saturated with bands doing this exact thing (and often better), and ‘Vae Victis’ more likely won’t find its way into your heavily rotated records.

“Vae Victis” is available here

Band info: bandcamp || facebook