Red Vinter
We Built Our Own Death Machine (Demo)

If you fell asleep at the end of 2023 then you would have missed up-and-coming band Red Vinter’s We Built Our Own Death Machine demo, which literally dropped, right before 2024.  While it’s a demo, any release that drops at the end of a year is dead in the water, so to speak.  The band is said to be out of Minnesota, but one of the band members, is originally from the DC/MD metro area, Mike Bullock.  Mike had some important stints in local bands Indestroy, Ironchrist and Scab.

When Mike approached me to review his demo recently, I was honored he would consider me for the review.  Mike takes the vocal and bass reigns on this.  Rounding out the band is James Achilles on drums and Ly Arboleda on guitar.  Ly is new and James did the guitars and programmed drums on this demo.  Self-releasing a demo is a smart decision and what we have here are five songs with a lengthy 32 minute run time.

The best way to describe the music would be a post sludge/doom metal band.  These young ears of mine pick up influences ranging from Kyuss, Godflesh, Skin Chamber to Norway’s most excellent Kryptograf.  Before I start with the review, and I told Mike I would be honest, I’ll get my proclivity out of the way real fast.  Unless you’re Maiden, Sabbath, Priest, Metallica etc…I really dislike instrumentals.  Red Vinter’s “Armor Up” is an instrumental close to six minutes.  I’ll leave it at it would have been best suited to have had the inclusion of vocals.  ‘Nuff said.

“K.I.A.” opens with some nice isolated bass guitar rumbling and then the slow drums hit with the stoner doom guitar riff.  Simple, yet effectively heavy.  Mike’s vocals are interesting and I view them as experimental in nature.  They’re more of a spoken word type of style.  Not harsh, at times seemingly whispered, but a little aggressive at points and gruff.  When we get the middle part of the song going on, it has a bit of NY’s own, now defunct Winter, who transitioned to the name Göden, with respect to the slow riff, not doom/death metal, like Winter did, just in style.

“In Cygnus” has some jumpy riffing reminding me of early Godflesh, when they would go from their industrial metal moments to their doom, so seamlessly.  This is a catchy and fun riff and the song gets moving a bit to the point where head banging is necessary.

Skipping to the last track is “Blood in the Frost” and it’s close to eight minutes. Starting with some bass guitar, kind of like how the track’s opener started, this tune, begins with a lumbering sloth like speed.  This song is not in a hurry, let’s put it that way.  Slow…. and Mike let’s loose on a nice growl/scream and the speed will call to mind Winter’s slow and dirgy moments.  This song has some filth to it and when I listen to doom/sludge/heavy stoner metal, I want those riffs to be grim and grimey.  Mike begins with more of that spoken word vocal style and he sounds like he’s singing in a concrete cell, with the reverb, echoed vocals.  Maybe he did do the vocals in a cell?  Maybe I need to ask him just what the hell is going on with him, ha,ha.  The song has some nice guitar melodies and towards the end we have some atmospheric guitar soloing happening.

We Built Our Own Death Machine has a nice production, it’s warm in that it’s organic and not processed.  The artwork is excellent for this type of music and go ahead and pick any battle in history with the harsh weather and landscape and soldiers lumbering, falling and fighting – the artwork coincides nicely with the music.  Red Vinter, have something going for them and laying a nice skeletal foundation of what could be on the horizon.  Good demo folks, check ‘em out.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Frank Rini
March 1st, 2024

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