Album Reviews

Album Review: VULTURE – Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves

Metal Blade Records | 07 June 2019

VULTURE coverLike a nuclear reactor explosion – shamelessly watching HBO’s Chernobyl has crept into my subconscious – Vulture‘s new full-length erupts torrentially.  None are safe from the impending radioactive meltdown for these noble Germans have tapped into the very soul of Metal with lethal propensity.  For those unaware, Vulture are now four years into their existence and with a newly-signed contract with Metal Blade, their sophomore effort, Ghastly Waves and Battered Graves, is set to descend upon the International Metal world with its raging Teutonic fur!

Vulture play true Heavy Metal forged in iron and crowned in steel- to borrow a few words from the mighty Grand Magus.  There is simply no better description which soon becomes evident as the first track, “Fed to Sharks” begins its initial spins.  There is a ravenous hunger present showing up in the execution of mighty Thrash, Speed Metal, and riffs dressed up in the robes of classic Heavy Metal.  There is nothing short of a rich tradition of Metal in their homeland from Scorpions to Helloween and fellow newcomers, Lunar Shadow.  Heavy Metal of the purest form is in their very DNA, something that becomes all too apparent as the album rotates on. 

What contributes strongly to the authentic feel of this album is the production.  Even digitally, the band’s studio time successfully amounted to a feel deeply akin to the great albums of the early to mid 1980s.  With a synth-driven beginning, the third track, “B.T.B. (Beyond the Blade)” is set into motion.  The guitar tone is absolutely spot-on in terms of nailing the sounds of yesterday.  This is pure, high gain metallic splendor with plenty of clarity and definition for the rich harmonies which the band so successfully create.  The drums sound huge with just enough reverb to give them that classic thump proliferated on albums like Ride the Lightning.  There is indeed a parallel to be made between the drum tone and that of classic Lars, though S. Genözider tends to approach the kit with a proclivity tempered with much more diversity.  Perhaps it is the monster tom rolls that seem to invoke the comparison.

The vocal performance of L. Steeler solidifies him as a more than competent front man.  With a charisma drilled through a deep understanding of the genre, he capably handles his duties as master of ceremonies.  His style walks the line between classic Metal and edgier Thrash and Speed Metal motifs.  The verse sections typically consist of snarling lines like a mix of Cronos and a very young Dave Mustaine while he uses a very poignant scream to issue in the choruses and other passages.  He is truly blessed with the ability to summon a banshee-like howl, an echoing falsetto serving like squealing guitars to put emphasis on parts of his choosing.

One of the strongest tracks contained within is the sixth, “Tyrantula”.  It begins with a solid, Thrash type of riff.  When referring to this band’s riffs as being Thrash, the distinction must be made that this is meant to refer to early Thrash and not the slick production contained within the albums of the later 1980s when more and more bangers were beginning to be picked up by major labels.  This track presents a vibe, a concise snapshot of the record in its entirety as it mixes that early Motorhead reactivity with other classic tropes.  Another killer track follows by the name of “Stainless Glare”.  After a dramatic piano intro, the band launches into some of its most intriguing selections of riffs.  Evidently this is an album that picks up along the midpoint as the band seems to lock into an immensely effective groove.  The bass is much more prominent on this track as well throwing out a few crucial fills of its own.

No matter how raw the album may seem at times, the pendulum is swung the other way with the gifted soaring guitar harmonies.  The solos also serve as melodic alternatives to some of the nastier riffs.  All in all, this album is a classic Metal fan’s dream come true.  In carving out their own sound, Vulture have tapped into NWOBHM, early Bay Area and German Thrash, and classic acts like Exciter and Omen for influence.  This album will have you dusting off the leather jacket, throwing on your most prized metal shirt, cracking open a beer, and cranking the stereo until the walls shake.  That’s what it did for me, at least.  Enjoy world – Vulture have arrived!

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