Vulture Industries
The Dystopian Journals

Arcturus, Solefald, Manes, Morgul, Frantic Bleep – all part of an avant-garde, oddly theatrical sub-genre of black metal, and all of them from Norway. Now you can add Vulture Industries to that list, and if you’re an Arcturus fan, you’ve got good reason to rejoice, because debut LP The Dystopian Journals sounds like it could easily slot in between La Masquerade Infernale and The Sham Mirrors.

This is largely due to vocalist Bjornir E. Nilsen (also of Black Hole Generator), who does a damn fine Garm impression – a sinister, mustache-twiddling performance that’s so similar that it could only be considered sincere flattery. And that’s only half of the twisted persona on display here. There’s also a superb blackish vocal – raspy, corroded and full of menace.

Musically, Vulture Industries also retains Arcturus‘ arch, vaguely carnivalesque atmosphere (as well as horror-themed acts like Diabolical Masquerade), but they carve their own path with a crunchier melodic death feel. Tempo usually lopes along at a mid-paced groove, but Vulture Industries occasionally cranks to a double-bass churn – especially effective when the vocals also switch up at the same time. A few other well-placed elements surface throughout the album, like the damaged, waterlogged piano at the start of “Blood Don’t Flow Streamlined,” or the morose violins that close out “Pills of Conformity.” None of these extra elements feel out of place, and perfectly suit the darkly vaudevillian tone.

Songwriting throughout The Dystopian Journals is, for the most part, engaging, with a few standouts like “Path of Infamy” and “To Sever the Hand of Corruption” taking you on a complete and expansive journey. “Path” feels like a jaunty, dancing carnival barker luring into an exhibit tent – and then the harsh vocals come roaring in as the freaks inside tear you to shreds. However, some slower, moodier tracks like “The Benevolent Pawn” or “The Crumbling Realm” left me cold, because they never seemed to go anywhere. Given how evocative and distinct the sound of The Dystopian Journals, I think Vulture Industries can afford to go even more progressive on the next one, and will hopefully deliver something even more galvanizing and bizarre.

That said, this is an impressive debut and a no-brainer for fans of the above-mentioned bands. Taake and Enslaved fans may also want to give it a listen, as musicians from both bands contribute here as well. The Dystopian Journals also features one of the more arresting covers I’ve seen in awhile, featuring famous Norweigan actor Helge Joral strangling himself.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
July 26th, 2008


  1. Commented by: Cynicgods

    The music’s fine but that copycat Garm voice distracts me.

  2. Commented by: axiom

    Hmmm…need to check this out. Love arcturus and all the cerebral avant-garde.

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