How do you create a new Death Metal band? First of all pick a title from an archaic script – preferably in Latin, grab a few death metal legends to form an arsenal of crushing music, drown all your work in satanic themes, stay true to pure old school roots, and make a name for yourself by releasing a killer début album. That may not be the most precise formula, but it seems to have worked well for VRPI, hailing members from the likes of Supplicum, Necroccultus, Sargatanus, Ominous Crucifix and Leper Messiah, they’ve come to tattoo their impact on the metal scene, and they’ve bloody well done it with this eponymous debut.
You have to expect a cinematic intro to most heavy acts, VRPI blast things off with Latin quote then launch full throttle into their opening chapter – that’s right, they don’t have tracks, they have chapters, a brilliant angle to reflect how deep into death metal they are. When the vocals kick in it’s like an anvil to the jaw. Rebens Nergal’s style is gruff and loud, reminiscent of Nathan Explosion, but a good tonne heavier, his lyrical content encapsulates and compliments the music brilliantly, staying in the canon of satanic filth. A ball busting intro that’ll wake you up and command your direct attention. Serpents Council is nothing more then a warm up for the band and a prelude into Ceremony of the Impure another overdose of brutality, giving the guitars plenty of flexing time and allowing Sanchez to flaunt his fine cymbal work on the drums. I can see Towards Battlefields being an immediate crowd pleaser, starting off elongated and drawn out, it rapidly builds momentum snapping back and forth between tempos, and just when you think you’ve nailed their rhythm they throw out a chunky groove from the rhythm section accompanied by a shrieking solo.
Ravenous Apocalyptic Raids keeps the same chugging rhythm, showing excellent continuity for the album, but serves little other purpose then being a bridge into the next onslaught Purification by the sword, beginning with a siren and throwing into full throttle head-banging mode, although the excessive use of pinches leaves a displeasing taste in the mouth. More tempo changes flow seamlessly throughout the song, showing VRPI are not shy about experimenting on several plethoras of Metal. Yes there is a strong undercurrent of death metal, but it slips quite easily into thrash, and there are flavours of black metal in there too. Chapter six Leviathans Coronation, begins with eerie ambient howls; an almost ‘calm-before-the-storm’ effect. I’m unsure which interpretation they used for inspiration, be it LaVeyan Satanism or if they took their influence straight from the Tanakh, but there’s enough sea churning momentum, and anger to provide a solid tribute to Leviathan. a solid driving rhythm accompanied well with lyrics starts the track off well, it’s rapid, engulfing and deep, everything you’d expect from a mighty nautical nightmare.
Screeching guitars open up Nine Kingdoms backed up by more relentless drumming, followed by an ensemble of cries, when the 1:00 minute mark drops though we’re thrown into a full on groove demonstrating VRPI’s melodic side, it’s fast it’s heavy but damn is it good to throw your head about to! High shrieking reflects a different pallet of vocal styling, demonstrating further the depth of this band, they certainly have a lot to offer and as an opening album, you can’t help but enjoy the vast scale of their forte. For me personally the combined vocals around the 3:10 mark lose some of the emphasis, there’s a greater impact when they are separated, luckily though half a minute later there’s a heaving lurch into a solo and the bass work is exceptional.
Hunting and Sacrifice another dose of pure brutality which is introduced perfectly the isolation of Sanchez against horrific film clips including a chilling “I See You” from Sauron is enough to send shivers straight through the soul. From here on it’s more full throttle explosive and unnerving death metal. Despite it’s blasphemous flavours and ill willed content, you can’t help but be drawn in to it’s onslaught. A highlight on the album for me.
Necropolis Rising The final chapter in this album a complex definitely worth leaving until the end, it’s clear a lot of thought went into making this track. It starts chaotic, but makes excellent use of breaks, what I love about this track is after the initial thrust of violence that erupts from their instruments, it just keeps on pounding, as soon as you’re led to believe they’re about to take it down a gear, they shift things up, resulting in pure head-bangers delight. The descending riff at 1:39 encourages moshers to throw their weight around, and once again we’re treated to fantastic bass work, I can hear shades of Necrophagist from Balandran, the pinches from guitars are well placed and not overused, their infrequency giving tonnes more emphasis. Chapter nine effortlessly rolls into another bounding thrash section with the drums giving hell for leather, sprinkled with a touch of finesse on the cymbals as a magnificent solo soars over the cacophony. It’s as if the track glides seamlessly back into good ol’ fashioned Death Metal, and what better way to end with a tasteful fade out of vocals and a rewarding minute long string section. It’s touching and beautiful, in an evil way. But it will make you pause and reflect on what you’ve just heard. A great end to a great chapter, and indeed a great album.
The three demos at the end serve no other purpose then to express how far the band has come and how well they can refine their sound when tweaking in a studio. Die hard fans might get a kick out of them, but for me the album finishes after Necropolis Rising. Truly VRPI are one of Mexico’s best kept secrets, you’ll be hard pressed to find an album as taught as this for a début.
Review by Basically Jim]]>