Vile Insignia
Bestial Invocation

Canada’s a good place to make black metal.  Some of my bandmates are from Canada, and I know the cold up there is dogging and leads some folks to produce music that reckons of the endlessly lashing frost that befalls every inch of the country.  Murderous death/black quintet Vile Insignia are a good representation of what the Canadian environment can create when it comes to metal.  After a nasty Self-Titled EP, the band follows up with their 10 track debut LP, Bestial Invocation.  I hope you like self-mutilation and pure self-hatred, because that’s exactly what one listen to this monsterwork will inspire upon anyone that dares to listen to it.

“Intro” is a traditional noise-ambient piece living up to its name before the record starts proper with “Enslaved Possession’s” deranged, ice-blasted tremolo riffs, chest-rattling double-bass and lung-scraping vocal screams.  This is the avenue of black metal I’m gladly willing to strut down; the kind with a high melodic sensibility in terms of its riffing and shape-shifting arrangements but with a complete lack of silly symphony shit.  Instead of an orchestra you get focused, feral raw aggression with zero bullshit.  Hell, you can even hear Devan’s bass lines!  They hardly steal the show from Jesse Nyboe and Don Atkinson’s serpentine, dual guitar twists but they provide enough depth to avoid the dreaded non-existence which is often where black metal low-end falls, even delving into a few complex leaps that only adds to the massacre.  Cody Emms alters his nascent vocal screeches with some gruff, vomiting lows but mainly prowls the higher register of his vocal range during this cut.

The recording is just right for the genre and each instrument is the equivalent to a fat side of beef.  Most of the tempos retain a forceful, mid-tempo rape but drummer Aaron Panich pushes the material with deceitful blasts and molten double-bass which in turn whips the riffs into a frenzy of death metal progressions that nimbly ascend and descend the fretboards at will.  Thrashing, staccato chugs lend even more girth and give these boys a formidable sack as riffs appear and disappear beneath a sky ablaze with the Northern Lights and falling comets bent on Earth’s destruction.  At 7+ minutes the material runs the risk of boredom but never succumbs to it with a cathartic finale of malicious blasting and lobotomizing guitar surgery.

A flashy beat gives way to pure death metal, double bass/blast ballast and technical riffage in the early goings of “Reich of Evil.”  The thickness of the riffage and the lightning fast chord changes reeks far more of Floridian death metal rather than strict Norwegian stuff with the vocals adopting a mucous-riddled puke to further accentuate the atmosphere.  Soon the guitars drown beneath ice-encrusted waters and shrill treble frequencies that take over nearly the entirety of the onslaught.  Gravity blasts instigated by the fancy footwork rattle your trap, gleefully breaking your jaw as the riffs, vocals and bass lines spew atrocities that barely maintain their catchy melodic composure.  These guys are really touching on the perfect blend of black/death influences with concrete tough thrashing riffs evaporating into cryogenic tremolo and ripping Darkthrone style venom.  Though the lo-fi stuff is damn cool and I’m a big fan, it’s nice to hear this type of music done up with a production that really gives it some lard in all of the right spots.  Muscular, grinding mayhem spirals “Desecration through Blasphemy” into the nether of insanity where dirty death metal riffage is riddled with machine gun holes thanks to one blast after another.

The filthy retching saunters into freshly thawed, mid-tempo riff groove again unveiled in rushing tremolo patterns backed by some buoyant basslines that literally hop all over the fuckin’ place.  A sludgy, Celtic Frost-ed riff groove transforms the atmosphere into something altogether dingier and dirtier; a much needed change proving these lunatics have a grasp of dynamics in their songwriting.  There’s an equal trading of blows venturing from black metal into death/grind territory where technical progressions rule the day and fatten up the bony, high-end damage with dirge-y death metal prowess as the vocals get lower and slower with every passing movement.

“The Infernal Siege” sees Panich working some off-time beat jazz into an introductory drum solo before plucky, finger-picked bass lines and frigid, noisy scrapes of blackened debauchery crush the music into an angular mid-tempo.  Sharp juxtapositions provided by the constant beating of the drums sicken and thicken up the mix with some serious busyness as the riffs pool like blood beneath a winter sky.  Devan’s low-end consistently protrudes from the guitar lines, playing in tandem with the guitars one moment and then jumping out from their shadow the next.  I can see Dissection fans getting behind this, although this is even more aggressive than the work of the landmark Swedish legends.  Black, death and grind collide in the lecherous speed riffs and blast beat curmudgeon of “Incantation of Torment.”  Doom-y riffs occasionally undercut the frantic desperation with touches of melody providing only momentary respite from the next torrent of bowel-turning horror.  The complexity of the band’s sundering grind when stacked up against their brute force death metal malignancy is like a merger of Lethargy, Sulaco, Obituary and Deicide all in one blast.  “Sermons of Anguish” and “Ritualistic Inquisition” are cut from the same cloth placing death/grind’s schizophrenic change-ups first and foremost while delegating blackened melodies and fetid doom stink to the background.

The title track reverts to perverted blackened chaos that melds the best of the American scene with the European forefathers like a sex tape where the first two Goatwhore albums are given a steamer from Dissection, Marduk and Hyadningar.  Closer “Morbid Tales of Bloodshed” halts the pacing for stark mid-tempo gruel where open chords and ringing melodies call forth a diseased atmosphere straight from the grave.  Riffs are tangible throughout with an emphasis on tunefulness as the vocals expel deep, death-y diatribes (with some piercing shrieks) and the drumming refuses to turn its head on the slamming double-bass.  The structure here is the band’s most ambitious on the record and at 10+ minutes of playtime you can bet your ass they use every stylistic weapon in their arsenal.

Bestial Invocation is a great album with a shitload of elements in tow and a lot going on.  It’s the perfect split of black, death and grindcore with some slower doomier riffs and technical crescendos rounding things out.  There’s never a dull amount with the playing set at such a high-standard and each song packs in a plethora of memorable riffs, changes and parts.  Vile Insignia never lets up across these 10 tracks and in the process they won over a new fan right here.  Hopefully they’ll win you over too because this is a goddamn great album!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
January 7th, 2016


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