Written By: JF Williams
First of all, I think Paolo Girardi should come up to center stage and take a bow. His artwork decorates the covers to a whopping 13 releases this year alone, including Inquisition’s Obscure Verses for the Multiverse, reviewed on AMG not too long ago. Here Giraldi strikes again – take a good, long look at the horrific Freudian nightmare of an album cover adorning Patricidal Lust, the debut release from San Franciscan death metal horde Vastum, and I dare you to tell me with a straight face that such a beautifully disgusting work of art doesn’t make you salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs.
Just like the deliciously putrid artwork decorating the cover of Patricidal Lust, the music contained therein is a fetid, hot-and-ready splattering of meat-and-potatoes doom/death metal. Deliberately lacking much in the way of speed, virtuosity, or lyrical headiness, Vastum takes the Conan the Barbarian approach to death metal, reveling in dim, visceral brutality comparable to doom/death legends Autopsy and (especially) Coffins. Vastum’s sonic vocabulary is proudly stunted, consisting exclusively of slogging, suffocating open-chord riffs tuned down into oblivion, pounding Neanderthal drums and guttural, unintelligible grunts. It’s military music for Saruman’s Uruk-Hai army – coarse, irrational and brutish.
That being said, Revenge or Blasphemy this is not. Vastum deliver the goods with a performance that manages to be relatively airtight without sounding too sterile, and loose without being sloppy and pedestrian. Opening track “Libidinal Spring” showcases Vastum’s penchant for rock-solid riff penmanship – check out the nauseously serpentine riffing at 1:34 that propels the song into a Coffins-esque midtempo beatdown before a delightfully disagreeable lead guitar part slows things down and brings the song into terrible, terrible climax – but not before the riffs come back at the end for sloppy seconds. Closer “Repulsive Arousal” breaks up the monotony (if very briefly) by leading in with eerie pseudo-choir vocals that steam off the rancid, heaving guitar muck slithering underneath before the song staggers into a drunken, doom-laden chug. They meet craft and carnality at halfway, something that’s sorely lacking in a world of toothless, kick drum trigger-happy death metal bands. It doesn’t even pretend to be the most inventive or innovative thing out there, but where Vastum lack in high-mindedness they more than make up in attitude and an endearingly boorish aesthetic aim. Clocking in at 37 minutes over 6 songs, the record wastes no time and gets out before the (proudly) generic songwriting has much of a chance to wear out its welcome.
The typically indecipherable vocal grunts make any examination of lyrics impossible, but the album’s press kit was nice enough to identify a theme of barbaric sexual perversion (if titles like “Libidinal Spring” and “Repulsive Arousal” and the album title itself didn’t tip you off). I mentioned earlier the perhaps Freudian imagery laced in the lavish album artwork – check out the nude caveman fellow menacingly poised with his dripping knife before the enormous fleshy cavern dug out of the chest cavity of the carcass of a giant dead human body, and not to mention the erupting volcano in the background, if you catch my drift. It’s not hard to see a theme of perverse sexual desire. Whether or not this is a bit over analytical, it certainly adds another layer of filmy grime to an already foul, fetid piece of music.
Are you sold yet? If you like your death metal rank, rough and ready Coffins-style, then do yourself and favor and get cozy with some beer, pizza and a copy of Patricidal Lust – Vastum is a band that knows what’s good for you. On the other hand, it would behoove those who like their death metal with less bile and more brains to search elsewhere.