Vinyl VVednesday: Vitriol – To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice
Prepare yourselves for a bludgeoning, possibly the most egregious one I’ve experienced in 20 years of listening to metal. Today’s Vinyl VVednesday feature is no ordinary review, it also serves as an “In Case You Missed It” and a testament to the format that I love so much. Portland three-piece Vitriol has graced us with To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice, setting a new benchmark for everything I thought I knew about extreme music. Prior to discovering this band I had considered Strapping Young Lad to be the pinnacle of pissed-off rage, but in 2019 a new king has been crowned.
Vitriol is relatively new to the scene, having independently released their first EP Pain Will Define Their Death recently in 2017. It was only three songs, but made a big enough impact to “wow” the collective Internet and declare that this band was one to keep on the radar. Two years after its release came their debut full-length on Century Media, and while it’s basically more of what I loved from the EP, I was still not prepared for the absolute onslaught of, well, vitriolic expression. While To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice does include four tracks we’ve already heard before (the three songs from the EP and the single released in 2018), the full package is easily worth your money—especially on this format.
Don’t expect the band to ease you in with the comfort of an ambient intro track… once the needle drops on “The Parting of a Neck” you’d better be ready for a speeding freight train of brutality. A drum fill courtesy of Scott Walker lasts about two seconds before the technical riffing of axeman Kyle Rasmussen and lighting-fast bass from Adam Roesthlisberger go from 0-60 faster than a Tesla. It features a few vocal lines that approach being catchy, but fury is the name of the game here. It’s a style of death metal which might be comparable to Origin, if they were less weird and somehow more unrelenting. These musicians are exercising zero restraint, doling out tech death riff after tech death riff over consistent double-bass drumming and tempo changes ranging from really fast to blazing. To call it egregious might be an understatement, and it’s an attribute that keeps me coming back for more. With the exception of side-B starting off with an air ride siren and military-style drum march, there are no segues or quiet moments contained within, just 10 tracks of blistering speed and aggression.
It’s because of the homogeneous arrangements, both individually and wholly as a record, that one might (understandably) lose interest before the 45 minutes are over; if you happen to be someone like myself, who appreciates the magnitude of skill and pace, it’s a non-issue. This release is a constant stream of stunning riffs on display throughout its entire run-time which means there isn’t a single weak track to be found…but for the sake of embedding one of the more impressive songs check out “The Rope Calls You Brother”:
Previously I mentioned the importance of vinyl, and here’s why I say that: shortly after the album’s release I hopped over to Amazon MP3 to purchase the digital album (no BandCamp) and upon listening to it my ears were in pain from the clipping: this thing is mastered hard and loud. Now I could forgive a decent amount of clipping—it comes with the territory of this style of the music—but it was bordering on unlistenable. Many times I would queue it up on my phone, in the car or at my desk, and have to stop halfway through due to the extreme clipping.* It sounded like noise. Well, here’s the good news: To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice sounds a lot better on vinyl. Drums, guitar, and bass are on a more level playing field, whereas the drums had too much presence on the digital format. So whether I have the volume low or cranked way up, it’s easier to appreciate the cacophony of technical prowess on display here.
This album falls somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars out of 5, it is a stellar debut album from a band that’s relatively new to the scene. If I wasn’t lazy enough to skip a Top 10 list for 2019, this record would have been planted somewhere right in the middle. The vinyl sounds great, the package is clean and concise with excellent artwork and includes a full lyric sheet if you want to sing along. Vitriol is a force with which to be reckoned, and I am more than excited to hear what comes next.
One can purchase the LP from the Century Media store. Should you choose to go with the digital release, Amazon Music is the place to go. The band is also on Facebook, if you’re into the whole social media thing.
* I’m willing to give Amazon MP3 the benefit of the doubt: perhaps their bitrate isn’t very high or I failed to download the high bitrate version. Whatever happened, it soured my initial taste of the album.