PICK OF THE WEEK: Vile Creature’s doom expands, bursts hearts on glorious ‘… Apathy Took the Helm’

Photo by Danika Zandboer

If there’s one positive result about the tragic and horrifying events of the past month it’s that people suddenly give a shit again. A lot of people had all along, but it feels like others are awakening, finding their pilot light within them raging, and pouring themselves into causes they perhaps didn’t pay much as much mind as they should have in the past. The passion is palpable.

The heart of “Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!” the amazing third record from Hamilton, Ontario-based doom duo Vile Creature, rips the lid off indifference that may have bogged one down in the past. The duo of Vic (drums, vocals) and KW (guitars, vocals, drums percussion) stood to fight back against the tendency to slip into apathetic behavior and the feeling of uselessness and used the music to break out of that pattern and hammer forward. The darkness remains in these songs, but there also are sounds that go beyond that and match the lyrical ideas that hope is possible, even in what seems like a permanently broken world. On top of that, this is the band’s most realized music to date as they explode beyond their boundaries—they always were flexible before—and rocket into the stratosphere.

“Harbinger of Nothing” opens the record in the midst of a crushing storm as doom lands, and burly riffs flex their muscles. The track then settles into a mid-tempo bashing that hints at calm but quivers on its edges as Vic wails, “Tell me who I am, if you’re all knowing, the arbiter of moral purity,” as the vicious calls combine with noise before the pace eases, and the whispers of, “Tell me who I am,” crawl under flesh as the track enters choppy waters. The playing eventually buzzes back in as both Vic and KW combine their voices as one monstrous force, unloading devastation until chimes takes it out. “When the Path Is Unclear” has guitars awakening as things slip into a trippy vibe, and melodies drip into space buzz. Vic speaks the words, “The champions of your past conquered nothing, and neither will you,” as things punch open even harder, and the vocals turn to outright savagery. Dual vocals crush again as the guitars melt into psychedelic lava, and the drums turn your skull into paste. “No longer plagued by the grinding of your spirit, all you have doubted, your future clouded, you cannot act with conviction when the path is unclear,” lashes into you as the finality lands final blows before fading away.

“You Who Has Never Slept” starts a second half that is unlike anything else in Vile Creature’s catalog, not that the first part was conventional. The drums rumble while the vocals crush, as the clutches of indifference are destroyed as emotions boil over. “Bow and open yourself to what is to come, for I have lost my youth and joy,” Vic belts, while the track breathes fire yet does so with an entirely different atmosphere. The track trudges as guitars burn off, while the band hits a strange groove as the spoken lines, “We will not stand for this, we will not be bystanders, we will not stand idly by,” let things boil over and come to a fiery end. “Glory! Glory!” features Laurel Minnes’ vocals (she also was on “A Pessimistic Doomsayer”) with her band and choir Miniscule, and they make this track feel like the world is beginning again, like drops of sky are falling. The guitar work twangs in spots as the singing floats, later churning and letting off smoke while organs (courtesy of Bismuth’s Tanya Byrne) join in, and we’re off to the devastating finale “Apathy Took Helm!” that should send chills down your spine the entire run time. Guitars merge into an eruption, leading to dual vocals twisting spines and the choral parts painting majesty over the whole piece. Vic’s vicious shrieks rain down as they also mutilate behind the kit, thickening the doom waters with blood. Angelic hell rises to the surface and seems to quell the fires before everything kicks back in again as the cries of, “When we are dead and elsewhere, when we are dead,” rattles and wrenches before the track finally rests in the dust.

Vile Creature have been building an impressive body of work for just six years now, and “Glory, Glory! Apathy Took the Helm!” elevates them on a musical and creative level that should enthrall anyone who’s been following them along the way. We’re not quite halfway through the year, but this is one of the finest, most imaginative records we’ve heard so far in 2020, a year of absolute hell where there hasn’t been much to enjoy. Luckily, apathy has not been an issue for many of us with so much to fight for right now, and this record can serve as a reminder to harness those emotions and burn the energies until they run out.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/vilecreature

To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.prostheticrecords.com/

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