Vile Creature – Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! Review

A couple of years ago, I saddled myself with the record Cast of Static and Smoke by Ontarian duo Vile Creature. It turned out to be perhaps the most memorable 3.0 I have reviewed these past 4 years. Despite its flaws, it was an ambitious record that thrived on hideous, grimy textures, hypnotic repetition and glacial progression, rather than hooks or energy. A bit over 2 years hence, and its follow-up graces my inbox, with a disturbing, Midsommar-esque cover and featuring the unwieldy title of Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!.

Vile Creature’s sound has remained intact since Cast. From drummer Vic’s hellish opening scream of “WE DIE!” it’s immediately clear the sort of experience he and guitarist KW envision. Glory, Glory is a grimy, nasty, suffocating record. The riffs move at a slow, deliberate, battering clip, millstones grinding your teeth to meal, at a pace too slow to be called energetic but too steady to be called funeralean. They come at us like ocean waves, each movement a rise to a crashing crescendo that washes over us and drowns us. Vic’s drums are tone-setting, the percussion almost melodic against the wall of distorted guitars, accentuating the peaks and valleys of the crushing, churning riffs, while their vocals shriek and wail like an anti-siren, filling the salty air with throat-ripping desperation.

Like its predecessor, Glory, Glory is at its core a blackened doom record that acts like drone. It thrives on textures and hypnotizing repetition rather than hooks, which are almost entirely absent. But that does not mean there’s no evolution to be found here, for this is a more versatile record than what came before. “You Who Has Never Slept” introduces this explorative spirit with its huge, imposing drum track, but it’s the split title track that really brings it home. “Glory, Glory!” is a minimalist piece of female choirs and few guitars, and it’s absolutely a test of patience as it barely evolves at all for nearly 7 minutes straight. If the follow-up would not have used the textures introduced in its first half so well, it would have been a demerit on the album as a whole. But instead, when “Apathy Took Helm!” lets loose, it punctuates the cataclysmic riffs with snippets of those choral textures and the effect is like gasps of air as we drown in tumultuous waters. It’s beautiful and terrifying and the perfect payoff to the long wait of the first half.

Mind you, this is sure to be a divisive record, one that embodies ‘love or hate’ as a lifestyle. It’s a record that demands its listeners hold their breath for the payoff as it grinds and crawls through the broken glass of repetition, and not everyone will have the patience to wade through the toxic sludge to get there. The textures, the vocals, the guitar tones, the sense of slowly mutating progression are all tuned to repulse, and even for fans of grime and creep it may slip into the unlikable sometimes. You might expect such a record to be densely produced, and you’re not entirely wrong, but this is more a finely tuned oppression rather than a brick wall, and despite the tectonic weight behind the sound it’s an easy record to spin again, which frankly helps its case. Much like its predecessor, it needs time to worm its way under the skin, and will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. If it is, and time is given, it shows itself a more diverse and inventive iteration of Vile Creature’s sound, and it will latch on like a parasite.

I often waiver between proponent and opponent of numerical scoring at the end of our reviews. It’s a feature by popular demand; one that our esteemed creator has accepted against his own better judgement. Albums like Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! are a prime example on the opponent side. It feels like a futile effort to label Vile Creature’s music with a score, because it very much feels like an experience outside of ordinary scoring metrics. Glory, Glory is repetitive, droning, loud, abrasive, and frequently makes us wait through long stretches for a payoff. And yet, when the record is over, it can not be denied that it’s a wholly compelling affair that far exceeds the sum of its gnarly, nasty, ugly parts.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Prosthetic Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: June 19th, 2020

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