We’re closing put the week with more bloody history involving this country, the United States if you’re not aware, and some of the atrocities that led to death and destruction of native and indigenous people who lived in the United States and North America. Deadly clashes took place for about 150 years, with the people who inhabited this land in the first place defeated with their country taken from them.
That’s a rudimentary explanation, and it would take a lot more space than we have to get into all of that. Canadian black metal duo Vital Spirit aren’t here to necessarily give a history lesson on debut full-length album “Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind,” but the band goes back to specific struggles during this time period and flesh them out with their devastating sound. Multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Kyle Tavares (Seer, Wormwitch) and drummer Israel Langlais (also of Wormwitch) also smear a hefty dose of Western nostalgia and Americana strains to these songs, making it feel cinematic and atmospheric in a way that can make you dream of dusty trails and midnight gazing. The band covers events including Battle of Blanco Canyon, Taos Revolt, Long Walk of the Navajo, and Red River War in an exploratory and riveting manner, possibly sending you to learn more about the events behind these tracks that quake with fire. On the record, the band also is joined by cellist Christopher Brown (Kakophonix, Osi and the Jupiter) who provides crucial added texture.
“Blood and Smoke” kicks off with a total explosion, shrieks firing away, melodic rage becoming a greater force with every second it consumes. Acoustics bring a brief respite of calm before a steely Western vibe grows larger, horns calling out the feeling of vintage cowboy fire. “Bad Hand” ignites with savagery as the shrieks maul and scalding guitars leave burns across your flesh. The guitars pick up the intensity as the storms rage dangerously, the guitars churning and dripping out with moody strings. “Dawn of Liberty” stomps hard as it opens, the growls thundering and gutting, the playing consumed by carnage. The playing turns energetic and catchy, aligning with your bloodstream and delivering echo very much triggering Ennio Morricone haunting. Then the pace charges anew, shrieks cave skulls, and the drums decimate, ending in an ashen pile. “The Long Walk” taps in, guitars begin to light up, and the fires are stoked as a mammoth riff makes ripples in the earth. A combo of shrieks and growls batter while the rampage swells, halting ever so briefly before strings lather, chimes ring, and the sparks leans into the thick cloud cover.
“Withering Fire” smashes through the gates, the guitars rise and char, and the atmosphere suddenly grows more intense as the band thrashes heavily. The guitars explore space as notes ring out in your ears, and the final moments get your heart racing before the track disappears into the air. “Saccharine Sky” is a wondrous thing, a track that feels like it basks in dusty ethos of eras past, the moody noir feeling like carving out a cowboy’s heart. Strings stretch, horns echo in the distance, and the psychedelic elements drip like saline solution into your body. “White Eyes” is animalistic and vicious as it arrives, storming across the land and grabbing anything not nailed down into its tornadic gust. The drums rush as the shrieks spike your skull, the guitars leave you hopelessly dizzy, and melodies spit lasers and bowed strings into your mind. Closer “Lord of the Plains” starts clean and easy before the riffs aggravate wounds, and the heavy melodies mount their attack. Vile growls pull teeth as the heat briefly subsides before the temperatures rocket back to unmanageable levels. The riffs tangle your veins, vicious howls exact heavy damages, and acoustics and strings take over the pressure, lulling you into a cold front that soothes your wounds and lets you have a gasp of peace.
Vital Spirit’s enthralling debut “Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind” is a landmark effort for the smattering of bands lately that have paid honor to the West, bringing glistering dreams from the past soaked in blood and pain. This record unloads from the start, but it has so much texture and wonder, ideas that leave you dreaming about a time long past that remain a heavy part of this continent’s DNA. This record totally consumed me the first time I heard it, and each subsequent visit has allowed my mind to wander into newer terrain, the music and themes feeling richer and bolder along the way.
For more on the band, go here: https://vitalspirit.bandcamp.com/
To buy the album, go here: https://linktr.ee/vital_spirit
For more on the label, go here: https://vendettarecs.wordpress.com/
And here: https://www.hiddentribe.ca/