Vomitor – Pestilent Death (2018) REVIEW

Vomitor‘s nearly twenty year history of blackened thrash metal mayhem began as a general wave of the black/thrash sub-genre swept across Australia in no small part because of the increasing popularity of groups like Deströyer 666. Though many of the bands involved in reviving the ghosts of Bathory, Sarcofago and Sodom have fallen along the wayside Vomitor have been largely steadfast in their dedication to their original inspiration. My introduction to the band was a reissue of their demo ‘Neutron Hammer’ from 2000 which paired exactingly with their debut full-length ‘Bleeding the Priest’. The echoing reverb laid upon the vocals of black/speed metal projects can either sound false or like a raging demonic demo tape and unfortunately it wasn’t the greatest touch. Though the effect made more sense on their second full-length.

‘Devil’s Poison’ was an odd pill to swallow at the time as it popped up right after a live 12″ and featured a live-in-studio recording with minimal overdubs, two Gospel of the Horns covers and they did it all in one eight hour session. While ‘Devil’s Poison’ captured a raw demo-tape feel once again, a lot of the riffing was sluggish and forgettable. So, Vomitor’s approach didn’t really kick into gear for me until ‘The Escalation’ a ripping black/thrash album that evoked the most relentless and savage guitar work with a tonal shift towards early Destruction and you can feel that influence begin to permeate their sound in the best way. The vocals have an echo on them again and since Hellcunt had just spent a decade in Gospel of the Horns he’d brought with him some measure of heightened black metal extremity to his kit work this time around.

Though Vomitor have changed since ‘The Escalation’ most of that change is reflected in refinements and line-up shifts rather than any sort of sonic overhaul. Their 2016 demo ‘Prayers to Hell’ took several old tracks and revitalized them with their new, more intense sound and the raw thrash-centered style of that demo is echoed on ‘Pestilent Death’. Vomitor have smartly once again focused on capturing their raw live sound while tempering some of the obscuring quirks of past releases and honing in on their greatest strength: Old school extreme thrash metal guitar work. I’d still point towards early Destruction for affect but an even heavier dose of ‘Haunting the Chapel’/’Hell Awaits’-era Slayer theatrics dominate the guitar compositions on ‘Pestilent Death’.

The only real issue I have with the fourth Vomitor full-length is that expectations were running high and in the wrong direction when I first started listening to it. Considering the high bar that bands like Antichrist, Urn, and Condor set in 2017 I’d sort of built up a taste for more layers, melodic interest and a less direct approach. ‘Pestilent Death’ has more in common with the straightforward riff-focused ethos of groups like Cruel Force and Witchtrap. I find the album satisfies the space between a record like Sepultura‘s ‘Morbid Visions’ and Kreator‘s ‘Endless Pain’ where their influences of German speed metal and first wave black metal meet up with bestial death/thrash. Granted I’m a sucker for any album built around thrash riffs and Vomitor crank out buzzing, blasted first wave blackened thrash metal with no frills. So, if you’re not thrilled by thrash guitar gymnastics then ‘Pestilent Death’ may not be for you.

The only track that drags it’s butt a bit is the Hellhammer-ish thrasher “Roar of War” though it’s build and conclusion ends up satisfying across several full listens. “Tremendous Insane”, “Hell’s Butcher” have the most memorable riffs and composition alike, showing some new dynamics earlier Vomitor records were void of. My favorite track across the 32 minutes of ‘Pestilent Death’ is probably the opener “Tremolation” as it just screams 80’s Teutonic terror in the loudest, sharpest way possible and bleeds into the stomp of “Roar of War” in true heavy metal form. One of the few black/thrash related records of the year that I think will have a lot of crossover appear with fans of raw thrash metal in general and the guitar work from Portal and Gospel of the Horns alum absolutely never disappoints.

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Artist Vomitor
Type Album
Released April 20, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on their Bandcamp! Follow Vomitor on Facebook
Genres

Black magic warfare. 4.0/5.0

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