Vulvodynia – Praenuntius Infiniti Review

When Vulvodynia put out Psychosadistic Design all the way back in 2016, it served as an intro to slam for a great number of people. It was up there with Ingested’s Surpassing the Boundaries of Human Suffering for entry-level stuff that would eventually lead the listener to bands like Ecchymosis, Gorevent, and Kraanium. It had a modern sheen, plenty of obvious hooks, and an obnoxious sense of humor, but it also had enough in common with slam to draw the listener down the rabbit hole. I still enjoy that album’s take on slamming deathcore. Mob Justice was far more deathcore-oriented, but still had some vestiges of slam. I still like that one too, but by this point the humor was all but gone, replaced by a harsh, fittingly brutal look at their native South Africa, like Korpse focused on just one nation.

This brings us to Praenuntius Infiniti. The slam has essentially vanished, replaced with modern deathcore and its weird obsession with commercial black metal and arbitrary technicality. Praenuntius Infiniti is thematically concerned with a big alien or other multi- or interdimensional entity invasion. Disappointingly, despite the thematic direction, Vulvodynia have earnestly begun the process of blending into the crowd of bands like Lorna Shore and Mental Cruelty instead of being the ridiculous and fun band they were when addressing unserious concepts. Before anyone revs up their touch-screen keyboard to engage in some comments section caterwauling about how I can’t just expect bands not to “evolve” or change, know that I agree. Vulvodynia is entitled to do whatever they want musically, but by the same token, I’m entitled not to like it. And I don’t.

My favorite thing about Praenuntius Infiniti is the inclusion of Jon Huber (ex-I Declare War, ex-Pathology) on “Praenuntius Ascends” as a guest vocalist. He still sounds great, and Vulvodynia gives him some chunky deathcore riffs to feel right at home over. Matti Way also shows up for the party, and because it’s Matti Way he nails it. “A Cosmic Betrayal” isn’t bad, although it comes across more like deathcore by way of Gojira than slamming deathcore. “Eternal Wasteland of Galaxies” has a moderately catchy chorus and a lead break which begins well but quickly turns into technical wanking which torpedoes the solid melody it began on. The sole musical recognition of the cheesy alien/entity theme comes in the cropping up of the occasional cheesy and fun keyboard accompaniment to a riff I’ve since forgotten.

Technicality for the sake of technicality serves to make Praenuntius Infiniti a convoluted affair largely lacking in impact. What were small flourishes of modern “shredding” on Mob Justice have mutated into full riffs that go in one ear and out the other. There are multiple instances of vocalist Duncan Bentley essentially trying to do a deathcore rendition of Tech N9ne’s “Worldwide Choppers” and apart from the sheer technicality of the approach I’m baffled by its inclusion. It adds nothing to “Banquet of Enigmatic Horrors, Pt. 2: Agony” except a part that can be shared amongst friends who get off on technicality for its own sake. “The Seven Judges” has one of those infuriatingly senseless “chug, then do fast scale” quasi-riffs, as does “Forging the Deity Crusher.” “Whispers of Calamity” seems to exist solely to demonstrate some admittedly impressive lead guitar chops. If there’s another purpose to this interlude, it’s flown over my head.

The production on Praenuntius Infiniti is modern to a fault. The drums sound so replaced that it’s easy to forget they’re not programmed. The guitars have net-zero semblance of analog sound, and the hyper-digital approach makes some chugging sections that were surely designed to sound heavy sound silly instead. “Ravenous Revolution” is the best example of this – the result is almost comedic. The production is, sadly, representative of the music it frames. Praenuntius Infiniti has all of the superficial evidence of brutality, but none of the kinetic impact. This, I should add, is coming from someone who has no problem with slamming deathcore when it’s done well. Praenuntius Infiniti is, in my view, not done well. Too often it comes across as a talent showcase, and too seldom does it come across as a bona fide attempt to be particularly heavy or extreme. Everything is so compressed and so relentlessly insistent on grabbing the listener’s attention that nothing truly does. I wanted to like Praenuntius Infiniti because I like Vulvodynia, but the appeal of this eludes me.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Unique Leader Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 17th, 2021

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