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Vulgaari - "Vulgaari" (CD)

Vulgaari - "Vulgaari" CD cover image

"Vulgaari" track listing:

1. A World Created (5:18)
2. Battlestag (4:28)
3. Match (7:04)
4. Black Mountain (4:48)
5. Lie (7:58)
6. 77 74 (7:28)
7. Outride the Reaper (7:52)
8. Forever Roam (7:26)
9. Dirt from the Grave (4:44)

Reviewed by on March 18, 2013

"Vulgaari has a lot to show for themselves on this album, and there’s no reason to not give this a test run if sludge or doom metal find great appeal to you."

This album was never meant to see the light of day. It was supposed to be nothing more than a personal recording session for primary members Brent Hedtke and Zack Kinsley. Yet, they saw something in there that was meant to be heard by the world. So Vulgaari released their debut album early last year on Bandcamp, but it only recently saw an official release on Cubo de Sangre Records. This album is one of those lying so low that it would take many listeners a few hours to dig out its nestled goodness. It’s worth the search, though, for one of the more appealing debuts to come out in the last few months.

Vulgaari’s self-titled effort has the type of guitar work that is the sonic equivalence of a steak knife slowly piercing a person’s face from forehead to neck. It’s that crushing defeat, the agonizing pain that can only be snuffed by death, that equates this record to prime-cut sludge metal. It doesn’t hurt to incorporate some of the more rancid aspects of doom metal, or death/doom if you want to level it down to a specific genre type. If there’s one thing to take away from Vulgaari, it’s that they know how to make the most out of the concept of “harmony.”

This harmony defines most of the album, where guitars screech out in unison like an ill-tempered Iron Maiden. The guitars always shine, and with half the songs hovering in the seven-minute spectrum, there’s plenty of open area for them to roam free. Minutes go by with nothing but the beauty of static-drenched leads to tide the listener until the next inhuman bellow comes out. The death/doom mantra corresponds to the vocals, which have the deep rumbling of a Craig Pillard or John Alman.

There are few outright surprises from Vulgaari on this album, but what they do is so solid that it’s not much of a knock. “77 74” engages with a melodic intro, though that’s more for effect than a rousing twist. There is almost an hour of material to get through, so time does need to be taken out to get full enjoyment from this record. Though the band tames the enlarged songwriting techniques on “Battlestag” and “Black Mountain,” the second half is mostly comprised of lengthy trips into heavy, suffocating atmospheres.

Vulgaari is the result of two musicians, Zack Kinsey and Brent Hedtke, forming a tangible partnership that is evident on these nine songs. The band has no need to rush out their material, letting the songs ebb and simmer until the appropriate time strikes to be unleashed. If the guitar work doesn’t do you in, then there’s little hope for you. Vulgaari has a lot to show for themselves on this album, and there’s no reason to not give this a test run if sludge or doom metal find great appeal to you.

Highs: Guitar harmonies stacked to the sky, takes its time building up the mood, a twist on traditional death/doom metal

Lows: Other than the guitars, little variety in songwriting or structure

Bottom line: A fantastic debut that takes the standard death/doom formula and adds soaring guitar harmonies and leads to freshen things up.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)