Vestal Claret/Ungod [USA/Germany]
Doom Metal/Black Metal
Vestal Claret‘s music has charmed me ever since my first encounter with their excellent contribution to their split with India’s Albatross, and left me craving for more by this doom outfit. It was with much joy and surprise then when I received this split between Vestal Claret and German black metla band Ungod. Black Priest was an epic masterpiece, one single track that was almost 18 minutes long, whereas on this split with Ungod, Vestal Claret instead presents to listeners four separate tracks, with each lasting for at most 5 minutes, and leaves me wondering how different this would be to my previous encounter with the band.
What is on this split then certainly surprised me a bit. The Demon and the Deceiver starts off with an acoustic guitar amidst a rather calming backdrop, albeit slightly dark, and is unlike the huge sound that Vestal Claret had on Black Priest. But it is this acoustic instrumentation that allows for vocalist Phil Swanson to shine, as he sings out the anti-Christian and occultism-related lyrics out with much soul that so many other singers lack. But the listener is brought back to familiar ground as The Cult of Vestal Claret begins, with the slightly psychedelic lead guitar lines and the somewhat, ritualistic atmosphere in the music with the repetitive guitar riffs that are present. The songwriting, the change in pace that is present in the middle of the track that is so characteristic of the band are also immediately familiar, and one would soon find himself bobbing his head along to the music of Vestal Claret. Three and Three are Six even brings in some stoner elements, with the groovy riffs and the heavy bass presence, and is perhaps one of the most catchy songs that I have heard from the band so far. To make things even sweeter, there is also the blues-inspired guitar solos of Simon. Apart from their themes of occultism, there are also some morbid themes that pop out on Piece of Meat, as if things weren’t heavy or suffocating enough.
Ungod then presents an extreme contrast to what Vestal Claret has presented so far, as they begin their black metal onslaught without any warning at all as Piece of Meat fades out and Deus Est Homo begins. The gruff vocals of Tairach provides a nice, aggressive contrast to the cold atmosphere that the instrumental section manages to invoke. Transsexual Seraphs display the slower side of the band as the band takes a slowdown after the blasting Deus Est Homo, showing a slight variation in the band’s songwriting. Unfortunately, after the excellent side of Vestal Claret, Ungod‘s side sounded slightly flat, with nothing particularly special about their brand of black metal that hasn’t been done before that managed to stand out or capture the attention of the listener as one begins to drift away soon enough.
This split has been a clash of two extremely different bands, with each playing music from separate ends of the metal music spectrum, and has produced rather surprising results. It’s business as usual for Vestal Claret as they have shown their ability on their side, and while Ungod‘s side paled slightly in comparison, their raw and cold black metal would also easily get those new to black metal to explore the genre further.
Album Review: Albatross/Vestal Claret – The Kissing Flies/Black Priest
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