Indy’s Veilcaste spread personal misery, pain within doom waters on mind-melting debut ‘Precipice’

The word doom alone should give you a certain feeling. Nothing about the word on the surface is good. It’s DOOM! Destruction, unrest, a horrible fate, the bitter end all are things we can loop into those four letters, and anytime someone whispers the word, it can’t be good. So, that all being the case, why is doom metal so goddamn satisfying and fulfilling?

Veilcaste hail from Indianapolis, and I guess if we’re talking fate of their hometown football team, doom and hopelessness spring eternal. They’re not really going to hire Jeff Saturday, right? Right? Not that football had anything to do with it, but Veilcaste’s full-length debut “Precipice,” is jammed with sadness, despair, and negativity, elements that make doom what it is. Yes, there are bands that have taken the subgenre beyond that, but wallowing in the worst times and pain is why this exists in the first place, and Veilcaste—vocalist Dustin Mendel, guitarist Brian Wyrick, guitarist/vocalist John Rau, bassist Gabe Whitcomb, drummer Chris Cruz—soak this thing with pessimism in a way where the pain you endure on a regular basis feels like it has a something that relates. Will that make you feel better? It won’t.

“Asunder Skies” starts with guitars bleeding and Mendel’s grunts hitting your midsection, the trudging pace taking over and amplifying the power. The playing gets progressively heavier, sludgy fury slashes, and the final moments float into the stars. “Dust & Bone” punches with Mendel’s Henry Rollins-style hollers making their presence known, the playing sizzling in grimness. “Those days, they pass, just dust and bone will last,” Mendel jabs as scathing force and crushing playing powder bones. “Drag Me Down” is muddy with deeper vocals, the leads drubbing and testing your strength. The guitar work then spindles before the lurching increases, throaty howls land hard, and even some psychedelic dripping changes the shades. The playing lights up as the melodies mystify, pushing the way toward “For Us” opens with Mendel calling, “Twisting, turning, my life is burning for you,” as doomy soot collects, and the hopeless spreads across the earth. The pressure increases and squeezes out air as the pain increases, Mendel wailing, “My heart is bleeding for us,” as the door slams shut.

“Relapse in Reason” starts with jarring howls and doomy pools collecting with filth, the temperature getting more oppressive and unlivable. Things go cold as the guitars spark, and muscles are flexed, driving and sinking in their teeth, Mendel leveling with, “Unholy waters, nourish my mind,” as things end in brutality. “A Gasp of Air” is spacious at first before the bruising sets in, gutting with barked wails and howls stretching, molten chaos making the tension burst. Leads heat up as things get ominous, foreboding crushing squeezes blood from veins, and the final blows make breathing a struggle. Closer “Empty Hell” is mystical when it dawns, and then the gear get to work, bruising as organs haunt, guitars stretching their reach and threatening your sanity. The pace hammers in spots, refusing any sense of safety, mixing into a dreamy haze that makes your nerve endings tingle. Vicious playing gets in some final blows as Mender taunts, “Come join me,” as the pain finally trickles away.

“Precipice” is a record you can tell is stitched from heavy experiences, lived tension, and mental scars that never seem to fade into the background.  Veilcaste’s doom can be cosmic, but it never feels like you should be sky gazing, unless you’re dreaming for a runaway comet to finally do us in for good. This is brutal, bruising, and draining, a record that will sound best when you’re at the end of your rope.

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