Vitriol – To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice Review

What’s in a name? Everything.1 My pseudonym illustrates my love for heaviness but also suggests a fondness for ’80s zeitgeist cinema. However, my real name, Adonis McAffluent-Pythonpants, belies my economic and genetic prowess. After humble deathcore beginnings, Portland’s Those Who Lie Beneath saw fit to summon their true persona. Vitriol are so named because they wax particularly livid. The material’s furious fusion of blackened death metal recalls the halcyon days when Behemoth were more than just a tepid marketing machine. 2018’s EP Pain WIll Define Their Death showcased an act hellbent on utter annihilation. The band’s merciless modus revels in a perpetual motion so vicious it actively raised my heartbeat. Those three tracks have blasted wide the cut and made it on to debut To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice. But context is key. What resounds as a roar in the confines of an EP may whimper in the expanse of an album.

Vitriol are all about intensity. That willingness to go the extra mile and bond instrument with blood is something all fans of extreme metal can respect. To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice is beyond violent, but it’s also impressively proficient. Layers are important here and the band make good use of them by implementing a multitude of blackened tremolos to steer the cacophony. “The Parting of a Neck” wastes no time in introducing the album’s lacerating tempo. The frantic guitar lines that permeate the song’s density are hugely important in providing structure. But as the album progresses, something becomes painfully clear. While Vitriol‘s musicianship is on vorpal point, the same cannot be said of their penmanship. “Crowned in Retaliation” stands as a memorable exception and “Hive Mind” maintains with its chaotic twists. Sadly, with the firm exception of the three tracks featured on the EP, the majority of the album blurs into one with unfortunate ease.

A dearth of discernible riffs is a death sentence for most albums. We define acceleration as an increase in pacing, but when every second is nothing short of cyclonic, it quickly looses any context. Perhaps the most galling element is the sheer mass of available transitions. “The Rope Calls You Brother” is rife with opportunities to enhance the material with some well-considered riffing, yet the album consistently ignores them. “A Gentle Gift” does vaguely capitalize on its military motif with a palm-muted mid-section, but it actually just magnifies the vacancy in the rest of the track list. While I find the record to be surprisingly dull, Kyle Rasmussen’s leads are anything but. It’s rare in a genre so profoundly extreme that a solo can simultaneously emote and elicit cardiac arrest. His work on “Pain Will Define Their Death” and particularly “Crowned in Retaliation” is wracked with intensity and never fails to draw the attention. His inclusion goes a long way in confirming To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice as a quality effort, albeit somewhat misguided.

The adherence to a singular riff of attrition is regrettable and Vitriol‘s misfortunes don’t end there. Absolutely the worst aspect of the entire album is the combination of questionable production and an awful mix. Scott Walker’s drum effort is superhuman but the incessant clicking tone on the kick is incredibly grating. His blasting is so loud and omnipresent that it’s also utterly inescapable. This is probably an enviable predicament for bassist Adam Roethlisberger, whose intricacies never fail to keep trans-dimensional time… when I can hear him. This articulate performance does not deserve to be buried, especially beneath a guitar tone that bleeds into everything—even the furnace-like vocals shared by Rasmussen and Roethlisberger.

Vitriol are technically very impressive and have rightfully earned themselves quite the following. As a result, some may bitterly disagree with my take, but I’m inclined to divorce such voices from their high horse. Designed to exhaust, the songwriting’s limited focus is tiring in the worst possible way. Such criticism can be attributed to personal taste, but the production certainly cannot. However, I’m well aware of how prodigiously capable the band are. To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice isn’t a bad album, and I still believe Vitriol have the capacity to forge new ground. That I feel that way after such a tepid review is to the band’s credit. But despite Vitriol‘s eponymous purpose and promised ascent, this debut amounts to little more than just another overwrought tech record. And my ironaconda don’t want none unless you got riffs, son…


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: vitriolwarfare.bandcamp.com | facebook/vitriolwarfare
Releases Worldwide: September 6th, 2019

Show 1 footnote

  1. He’s not Fvkking around with this point either. – Steel
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