When a band releases the kind of fire breathing EP like Vitriol did with Pain Will Define Their Death, either one of two things will happen on the follow up full length; 1) said band spent their wad and fall flat or 2) said band capitalizes on the promise of said EP. And sometimes a third thing happens; said band emerges as the future of its genre. Vitriol triumphantly do the second and third things on To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice, their debut full length and maiden voyage for Century Media who picked them up off the strength of a playthrough video. ‘Future of its genre’ may appear strong but this kind of extreme death metal lives off the backs of a select few elder statesmen and as these greats age touring slows, releases slow, and we’ll eventually be left with their amazing discographies and no forward motion. George Jones once asked ‘who’s gonna fill their shoes?’ and in this case it’s Vitriol who have made one of the best extreme death metal releases in recent memory.
Speaking of blowing a wad, I pretty much did that in the intro. But, in the age of short attention spans, it is what it is – as a wise man once said. Anyway, our coverage of Pain Will Define Their Death, surrounding its release, was in interview format and one thing I gathered from guitarist and frontman Kyle Rasmussen was that Vitriol exists to fill a void that today’s swamp heavy death metal has created. Don’t get me wrong, swampy death metal is great and is having a STELLAR year (as it should) but, the extreme side, the technically awe-inspiring side, and the utterly ambitious side hasn’t gotten its due in a very long time. Feel free to argue that, actually I welcome it, but it’s hard to argue with the goosebumps that form from the opening salvo of “The Parting of a Neck” or the catharsis felt when “I Drown Nightly” hits its breakneck groove a mere 40 seconds in. It’s that feeling of finally finding a band and album that just gets it, that need to let go and blow off steam by way of viciously aggressive death metal .
Technicality? Or, do they possess the ability to leave jaws on the floor in awe? “The Rope Calls You Brother” has so many tempo changes and spiraling riff patterns that it’s probably illegal in at least ten states. And that’s all in the first 45 seconds. Before I get ahead of myself, I know there’ll be several of you that scoff at the fact that four of these tracks came from the EP but please hold it until you hear how these tracks sound when framed against the album as a whole. They feel so much larger and broader in scope and come with a better understanding of what the band was aiming. “Violence, A Worthy Truth” sounds like the logical next step on the heels of the militant “A Gentle Gift” and after the F5 tornadic swirls of violent guitars and inhuman drumming on “Hive Lungs,” “Pain Will Define Their Death” establishes a calm of sorts with a melodic backbone yet never lets up in the intensity department.
Just a couple highlights from my past coverage that today, with To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice in my ears, I fully stand behind, now more than ever: ‘savage in its sound, relentless in its pace and ultra-technical in its construction,’ ‘(Vitriol) wield the power to split the genre wide open,’ and ‘gritty, violent, and absolutely true to the genre.’ Their music is ambitious to say the least, and while this album might not appeal to anyone hunting an album to offer quiet backdrop noise or something to put on while floating down the river or watching a sunrise, it will appeal to those of us that are missing this kind of ‘balls out’ experience in death metal. Vitriol are in this for themselves, first and foremost, to make music they’re missing from today’s landscape and if any of us grab hold and find something we really like – as I have – that’s just a bonus. It’s easy to hear how much respect they have for the fathers of extreme death metal and they do it justice here. And, as yet another bonus, they’re not riding anyone’s coattails. What they’ve done here is take the sonic spectrum to an even higher extreme and a sharp willpower to do it better and push the envelope even further than what was ever thought possible.
To Bathe From the Throat of Cowardice succeeds on so many levels but at the end of the day, it’s all about the experience gained from these ten tracks. And that experience is one of finding a band that strives for that next level of extreme and pushes it beyond expectations without ever falling into wankery for the sake of wankery or complacency just to get an album out to the masses. When was the last time you recall listening to an album from your favorite genre that checked off every box that you could possibly think of and still had room to floor you with surprises around every corner? This is that album and this is that band. Long live Vitriol.