Vaultwraith - Death Is Proof of Satan's Power 01As I write this, Halloween is fast approaching. For me, it’s a time of binging on bad horror movies, gorging myself on Starbursts, and watching girls make things slutty that I didn’t even know could be slutty. Yet those long shadows and that eerie October chill also make a great time to enjoy some good old-fashioned metal, even if by “old fashioned” I really mean a style which just emerged a few years ago. I’m talking about “blackened heavy metal” — the type pedaled by Barbarian, Midnight, and that Exoskelett album from a couple months back. Combining early 80s riffing with raspy vocals and a modern punch, this style isn’t a “wave” quite yet, but that doesn’t mean new bands aren’t clawing their way up from the underground.

Enter Vaultwraith. This Missouri quartet just released their Wrath of the Wraith demo last year before signing to Hells Headbangers for debut full-length Death Is Proof of Satan’s Power. As one might expect from artwork that seemingly depicts Abigail growing up and becoming the devil’s new sidepiece, Vaultwraith mainly take influence from the classic metal of King Diamond and Mercyful Fate, albeit with beefier guitars and a more modern production. Likewise, the “blackened” flair is primarily achieved by the raspy roars of vocalist/guitarist/general mastermind “The Warlock,” who also garnishes these eleven tracks with subtle symphonics and morbid choirs for a little extra ambiance.

It’s not a bad formula. Opener “The Vaultwraith” sets the stage with ambient sound effects of some dude opening a vault, before introducing a spooky melody that soon explodes into a quick speed metal gallop. Follow-up “Ravaged in the Crimson Mist” and late highlight “High Priestess of the Wolf Coven” stand out by slowing things to a swaggering stomp, fueled by riffs crunchier than a fistful of corn nuts. Warlock’s guitar chops further show on songs like banging thrasher “Infernal Realms Unfold,” while his colorful solos pepper the rest of Death with some delightful classic metal flair. See “Devilcraft,” whose swirling Maiden-esque leads screech high into the night sky like a wailing banshee. In addition to the aforementioned symphonics, Warlock also effectively conjures an evil atmosphere with ghastly chord progressions, often coupled with easing the tempo to a dreary dirge. Check closer “Skeletonized Malediction,” whose harrowing keyboards are underlaid by a driving bassline that rumbles like a Choo Choo train to hell.

Unfortunately, there are a few too many of these slower songs, particularly in Death’s second half. After some quick cuts early in the tracklist, this ultimately causes the album to feel like it runs out of steam at the end, an issue that late instrumental “Damsel in Disgust” attempts to rectify without success. Forty-eight minutes is also a bit long for this style, and the loud production sacrifices some of the atmosphere at the altar of guitar crunch. The biggest problem, however, is a bizarre vocal effect used throughout the record. Rather than just add a bit of reverb and be done with it, Vaultwraith instead employ a layered echo that makes it sound like a bunch of demons are repeating the lyrics out-of-sync with one another a fraction of a second after they’re initially uttered. It’s a weird and annoying effect that probably stems from having three vocalists in the lineup, and though I learned to cope after repeat listens, ultimately the vocal layering works about as well as trying to argue for a refund at your local Halloween Express.1

Still, for all my gripes I have to admit Vaultwraith may be onto something here. Moments like the slithering chorus harmonies of “Ravaged by the Crimson Mist” are a blast, as is the Motorhead-esque charge of “Devilcraft” and the theatrical melodies of “Manifest at Midnight.” The songwriting is simple without being overly predictable, the atmosphere is engrossing, and with repeat listens I was surprised by how many of these riffs had embedded themselves in my head. Though there are still some unanswered questions (Why is death proof of Satan’s power? Why are three vocalists needed? How long will it take our commenters to add unicorn horns to those demon horses on the cover?) ultimately the only one that matters is this: are you interested in a Midnight that’s less No Mercy for Mayhem and more Mercyful Fate? Then don’t leave this buried in the vault just yet.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Hells Headbangers Records
Website: vaultwraith-us.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/vaultwraith
Releases Worldwide: October 30th, 2017

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  1. Pro tip: all sales are final. Make sure you really like your costume.
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  • Nukenado

    I envy you people.
    I’m from a conservative Christian family, so no “pagan holidays” for me.
    Well, I guess I can always listen to some epic metal to get in the holiday mood.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      Yeah, well “Christian” holidays originated in “pagan” celebrations, so…

      • Nukenado

        Yep. The only thing allowing me to get Christmas presents is the power of consumerism and holiday sales.
        Otherwise my parents don’t even celebrate Christmas.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        YOU ORIGINATED IN PAGAN CELEBRATIONS

    • Eli Valcik

      My Mom tired to be religious but she was just too lazy to make me do anything Christian. Now I’m a Nihilistic Metal Head.

      • Nukenado

        Same here. I still have to go to church though.

        • JeremyZero

          Stop.

        • Riddler Green

          Damn, church is a savage waste of time.

    • JeremyZero

      I love that HH digital releases are $6.66. I smile every time I buy one.

      • Nukenado

        Every one? I didn’t know that, sweet!

        • JeremyZero

          Most of them anyway for sure.

    • sir_c

      Here we have the 10 AMG commandments. The first one being: don’t be a dick.

      I think this is an excellent rule of life, disregards of what faith you are.

      • Nukenado

        Relax, I’m not going to go there:3

  • Eli Valcik

    I like this album but I’m not too crazy about it. The reason I keep listening to it is just because the Name is so fucking cool.

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      I, conversely, am crazy about this album, but don’t like it.

    • Eli! Nuke! Thatguy, Dalton and Reese too if y’all see this: Drop everything and go check out Miasma by ROSK. I don’t know how I slept on such a blackened gem, but I won’t let the same happen to y’all. Holy fuck is this thing incredible.

      • Eli Valcik

        Well that sounds really fucking good. I’m loving the vocals.

        • I’m loving the everything, even the 21 minute track just sails by for me. Between that, discovering Illyria, Vvylderness dropping and having finally ordered Exegesis by Anicon, it’s been good black metal times round hyah.

          • Eli Valcik

            I’ve been finding some nice BM recently too. However it’s more my kind of aggressive BM rather than most of the atmospheric stuff you listed. By the way I did check out Vvylderness, it reminds me a lot of Wildernessking meets Wardruna. I picked up ACTA NON VERBA by Deitus and Black Sea Misanthropy by Necronautical (it’s pirate black metal but somehow good.)

          • Wildernessking are fucking sweet, I discovered them through the Elemental Nightmares compilation and love what they do. I typically have a very small seasonal window for “your” type of black metal, that shit’s great for the tail end of winter but this time of year is largely devoted to atmospheric nonsense for me. As is the rest of the year, but whatevs.

          • Eli Valcik

            Yeah, I get what you mean. I just grew up with acts like Immortal, Mayhem, and Bathory so I developed a taste for the more trve and faster paced stuff, also I got some kind of ADD so I like stuff that keeps my attention, while I do occasionally love atmospheric bands, they usually bore me. But my seasonal genre tastes are messed up, I enjoyed a Summer of Black Metal, a Fall of Traditional, and I’m getting more back into doom recently.

            Also Im a sucker for BM with a gothic occult feel like Ende which takes roots from my old childhood stuff Like De Mysteriis.

          • Nukenado

            I’m with you on the musical ADD part. I like my BM fast and a bit punky.
            If you’re into doom right now, check out Kroh. Female fronted doom, perfect for the cold winter.

          • Eli Valcik

            Kroh is pretty good, I’ve been listening to stuff more in the vein of Hour of 13. Also a great Punky BM band that you’ve probably heard of but will recommend none the less if Kvlthammer, real real fun stuff.

          • Nukenado

            I don’t know about them, the name sounds like BM’s version of Gloryhammer, I check their bandcamp and the first review is Ted Nü-Djent’s “Hey, look. Kvlthammer are sorry they made you clean the toilets and the bathtubs, but, who did all the work in bed?”
            Listened to two tracks and I’m thinking a more raw Kvelertak. Fun stuff.

      • Nukenado

        Checking out posthaste.

      • Nukenado

        Reporting back:
        In Nomine Pestis “Cool shrieks, sounds nice, I can get behind this”
        Infected I “Holy shit those cleans”

        “OOOOOHHHH! OHHHHH! In empty world I dwell”
        Great fucking find Drew. This one’s a year end list disruptor allright.

      • Nukenado

        I know you’re meh to TBDM, but this reminds me of them a lot, especially in the vocals department. As in, super varied and good.

  • David Christian Dalton

    That is the most theologically stupid album title I think I’ve ever read. And I’ve been at this heavy metal thing since 1982.

    • Nukenado

      Same here. Even more absurd (and a lot more stupid) than Hail Spirit Noir’s “Satan Is Time”.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Ignore the fact that I’m an HSN fanboy for a second. I figured “Satan is Time” was more about the concept of “time” (and by extension “decay”) was a sort of all-powerful adversary to human exploits, in a bit of a parallel with “THE adversary” himself. The same concept is explored (much more explicitly) in the closer to Candlemass’ last album “Black as Time”.

        This one is, indeed, stupid.

        • Nukenado

          Yeah, I do get it. HSN’s Satanic imagery isn’t really about Satan sometimes. Read in an interview that “The Cannibal Tribe Came From The Sea” should be interpreted as “the elders eat the young to survive”.
          “Satan is Time” is probably the same.
          Theologically speaking, the title is absurd though.

        • Nukenado

          About “Satan Is Time” though. I’ve always felt that the Satan HSN mention is more of a positive, rebellious, taboo-breaking forward-thinking character. I’ve thought that Satan is Time is more like a “change is inevitable” song, with almost a “the Man” and “the Kid” punk allusion.

        • Kryopsis

          “Hell is a place full of clocks” makes for some great imagery though!

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      I expect only sound theology from my metal these days……

    • Gary W Wedding

      I find it funny.Annd I’ve been at this heavy metal thing since 1968.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Satan has a pretty lame ride for….you know…Satan.
    Plus his wife looks like a total bitch with the triptych and back seat driving.

    • Nukenado

      Satan has a grin that just says “why the fuck am I still with this person” as he breaks the fourth wall and stares at the owner the cover art.
      No priest would do a divorce for him. How sad.

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        She probably wants him to stop at IKEA “for a sec”……

        • Nukenado

          I’m pretty sure it’s the local bondage wear section. She wants some clothes that other ladies on metal covers have.

  • Jim Bob

    Caught my interest at Midnight.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    I seem to remember something about the Fall of “man” having made humans mortal, where previously they were immortal. Since Satan led to the fall through his eating-from-the-Tree-of-Knowledge trick, death is proof of his power, as he robbed humans of immortality? Still some logical holes there. Maybe I’m confusing it with a Greek myth.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Hey, that Unicorn pic: you guys are plagiarizing yourselves!

    MG
    Unicornspotter

    • Brutalist_Receptacle

      ^^FLAGGED FOR DICKISHNESS?^^^

      • There will be consequences and repercussions.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Both even

        • h_f_m

          This will be the title of an album within the next year or two.

    • FerrusWheel

      Well I’d never seen it before, and it’s glorious

    • Yolo Swaggins

      That unicorn’s anus is enormous.

  • GIMME *burp* BEER

    *burp* SEEMS LIKE SOME HELL RAISING, BEER DRANKING MUSIC.

    *burp*

  • Thatguy

    Well. this is pretty ordinary, but at least it has diverted the commentariat from dicks…

    Oh, dear.

  • Lithophyte

    The band logo reminds me of the American Neue Reich. I blame the US education system. If they had a liberal education with some classical underpinnings they would know that choice in life is proof of Satan’s power.

  • Hatecult

    Embedded track sounded pretty cool, reminded me of Arctic Thunder.

    I’m not at all well versed in this specific “micro-genre” but I am a huge Darkthrone fanboy, do most of these bands take influence from Darkthrone’s mid-late period, or was someone else already doing that kinda 2nd-wave-meets-NWOBHM-riffing stuff? Aside from the obvious one’s like Celtic Frost who’ve influenced everyone and their mother haha

  • sir_c

    By reading the review I first thought I wouldn’t like this, but actually I do. There are some nice ideas incorporated that make this an intriguing listen.

    But wtf is a vaultwraith? Is that some really heavy Rolls Royce?

  • Javier McDrifter

    Hey, AMG, would you review the ney Stahlsarg record? It’s a killer one

    • We don’t discuss things like that with people like you.

      • Yolo Swaggins

        You are about to banned under rule #1 of the current AMG comment policy:

        Don’t be a dick or we’ll ban you.

        • We don’t discuss journalism with fans, yo. If you didn’t get that, that’s on you. I’m also part of the “we” in question, so there’s that.

          • Yolo Swaggins

            Which rule comes first tho?

          • “More cowbell”

          • Yolo Swaggins

            How would u review an album consisting entirely of cowbell?

          • 5.5 and eloquent prose to rival the Bible.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    My Debt is Proof of Satan’s Power

    • Nukenado

      My Room is Proof of Satan’s Power

      • This Thread is Proof of Satan’s Power!

        • Nukenado

          This Comment Section and the Past Two are Proof of Satan’s Power!!!

          • I give up….

            Which Again is Proof of Satan’s Power!

          • Nukenado

            Truly, Satan’s Power (yes it must be capitalized) knows no bounds.

      • Solrac Avan

        THE Room is Proof of Satan´s Power

  • defjam

    I always knew the Fallen Angel has the best female company.

  • Rodrigo D.C.

    Are you guys planning to review new Moonspell’s 1755?

  • sweetooth0

    I’m not hearing Midnight in here at all. This is Scaremaker with more keyboards and Mercyful Fate/thrashy influences. Also Vanessa Nocera uses that echo effect on her vocals in pretty much every project she’s done from Scaremaker to Wooden Stake to Howling to Skeletal Spectre to Cauldron Burial.

  • Matt slatz

    A mercyful fate reference in a review ? Where is the good doctor for this review?