Premiere: Vanitas Continues the Deconstruction of Doom
Sweat beads your brow and trickles down your lower back into your already sodden undergarments as you make your way up the cracked asphalt, heat-induced mirages playing tricks on your sun-blinded eyes. Your tongue scrapes against your chafed lips in a manner not unlike the leathery snake on the side of the road winding its way along the parched earth. It is hot, and you are miserable. “Thrice curse this damnable sun,” you manage to rasp about between rattling pants and ragged inhalations. “I wish that something would blacken this loathsome star and doom this mountingly suffocating heat.” Well, irascible metalhead, have I just got the thing for you. This new split half from blackened doom trio Vanitas is just the thing to plunge your world, and conventional genre tropes, into the cold obsidian of eternal night.
Has it really only been five months since Vanitas completely blew me away with their first EP, Cemetery? It was hard to believe that the young trio had only been extant for less than a year when they released that mesmerizingly evocative bit of genre alchemy, and yet that fact becomes even more baffling upon hearing the further evolution of the Vanitas sound. The two tracks below form one half of the trio’s split with crusty grind unit Chaste and show just how willing Vanitas is to toy with the preconceptions of doom.
“Sanctuary” and “High Garden” find the band weaving trace elements of weirdo black metal, dark ambient, and even the odd bit of post metal and screamo into their low-end tapestry. On paper, that sounds like a jarring combination sure to make those sunblisters on your shoulders even more uncomfortable, but fret not, stalwart defender of metal truth! Those aberrant deviations produce only intoxicating memorability; the icy tremolo leading into “High Garden”‘s sloppy (in a good way), punk-inflected drumming only make those low, Godflesh-baiting doom chords that hit near the end of the track all the more devastating. And that creepy, rumbling interlude midway through “Sanctuary?” Hair-raising, putting you on edge for the big come down when the emotionally charged doom riff slams you into oblivion at the end.
Both tracks showcase the taut sense of urgency that made Cemetery so compelling, yet the new DNA spliced into this doombeast only ramps up the tension and drama. Intriguingly, the band cites films like The Witch and Silence of the Lambs as influences during the writing for Vanitas, so it’s only fitting that these two tracks would feel so apocalyptically earth-shaking and grim. Still wanting to blot out the infernal sun beaming mutation-inducing radiation directly onto your vulnerable, pale flesh? This new split, with its icy, ruinous riffs and onyx atmosphere, will certainly get the job done.