Vulgarite challenge barriers between humanity, divinity on smothering ‘Fear Not the Dark…’

The world is pretty much overrun by religion. For something that centers around a being that cannot be categorically proven to even be real by any means whatsoever, it sure as shit powers our wars, our hatred, our prejudices, and our exertion of power over others. Yeah, some people use it for good, but those aren’t the ones trying to maintain a stranglehold on power all over the globe.

I say all of this in preparation of discussing “Fear Not the Dark Nor the Sun’s Return,” the debut EP by Vulgarite, a one-woman project helmed by Margaret Killjoy (also of Feminazgûl). The music in this four-track collection immerses itself in black atmospheric doom as the songs examine heretics and are influenced by the works of William Blake (a painting of his adorns the cover). Considering Blake considered religion to be a form of slavery (especially mentally) and took issue with whether the biblical god was even a force of good, it makes for fertile content for Killjoy to mine. Not only is the lyrical pushing and challenging, but the music itself quakes your psyche. Killjoy does point out, however, that Vulgarite is not here with a theistic or atheistic agenda. Instead, listeners are supposed to consume the material and decide for themselves. For me, the first visit with these songs was right up my alley and so easy with which to identify. Subsequent listens have felt even stronger as every bit of this drips with fury and disappointment, fueling the massive strikes behind these songs.

We get started with “What Curse Comes This Way” that has eerie doom bells spitting static and wild howls that are washed into the background as Killjoy howls, “Death come kind, lay no curse on me!” as the song’s path consumes. The vibe is a bit Xasthur-like in spots, causing you to shiver in cold, while the back end re-erupts, and the storming murk ends as the funeral bells ring again. “His Words Are a Void” simmers in pastoral organs before the tempo opens and buzzes through the middle. Growls swirl with mournful melodies as Killjoy calls, “That stony law I stamp to dust and scatter religion abroad.” Organs return and swim in the skies overhead while the track drives downward, splitting into agony as the song slowly decays and falls to dust. “They Will Fall” begins with hypnotic chimes before everything blows up, and the grim fury collects in your brain. Serenity flows back in for a stretch before the walls are torn down, and the vocals smother. “In our hearts, in our blood, the only kingdom,” Killjoy cries as her words mesmerize, and the music crumbles and overwhelms, testing your will to survive. “A Decade, a Prophecy” closes the album with elegant keys winding before a trippy fury is achieved that leads to a wholly strange transmission. The shrieks return alongside sounds swelling and even some clean singing from Killjoy, while the song slowly ramps down and ends in a dark halo of chaos.

The shackles of religion aren’t likely to be removed any time soon, so it takes artists such as Killjoy to be raising questions and lighting torches against the oppression. Sure, “Fear Not the Dark Nor the Sun’s Return” probably won’t free the world, but if it can make people take a few moments to think and put aside what we’ve been programmed to believe, then it can have an impact. It’s also a massive, punishing journey through the fog, where the only way to travel is to feel around with your hands and hope you don’t fall off a cliff.

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