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Review: Vulture - Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves
Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves

Label: Metal Blade Records
Year released: 2019
Duration: 45:13
Tracks: 9
Genre: Speed Metal


Review online: April 1, 2021
Reviewed by: Micah.Ram
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Rated 4.2/5 (84%) (5 Votes)

The intro rolls in with the roaring roll of toms and effects before leading into hyper melodic lead riffs that crash into aggressive Thrash Metal riffs. This presents a unique duality that presides over the album as a whole and is the way Vulture's 2019 album, Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves, begins. Fans of earlier efforts of this band already know what to expect, especially those who have heard their 2017 album, The Guillotine.

With song titles like "Fed to Sharks" and "The Garrote," it is clear that the album takes on a rather vicious tone. Vocalist L. Steeler sounds like a maniacal madman on a mission to stalk, hunt, and kill with his unique delivery which fits the lyrics and themes of the album rather perfectly. He puts on display a huge range of vocal techniques complete with these bizarrely unfocused-sounding higher-pitched shouts, growls, and these odd but effective low to high glissandos which top out at extremely high vocal ranges and are often elaborated with an intense vibrato. Combined with his rich variety of vocal tricks is the use of reverb effects, which grant a slight layer of muddiness, but feels appropriate for the style. It is hard not to listen to this album and focus on the vocal approach here, which could potentially be a deal breaker for some if they find his stylings off-putting. I personally like it as it suits the music very well, as I mentioned earlier.

The guitar work is furious and varied in a way that suits both Speed Metal and Thrash Metal sensitivities. As alluded to earlier, there is a clash of very melodic riffs with more atonal riffs which suggests in a way a desire to explore the best of both the Speed Metal and Thrash Metal worlds. This duality provides a more dynamic base for the album, allowing parts of the songs to really pop and stand out above others, such as the melodic leads right in the middle of the title track which are surrounded by aggressively battering thrashy riffs. The solos are also extremely well-done standout moments on the album, mostly favoring the melodic ends of the spectrum in their sound.

The drums are also a standout feature of this album, as the recording and mixing really favors the variety of beats and techniques used. The somewhat frequent use of rolling toms is something that gives this album a very cool old school flair. The way this album sounds, especially with regards to the drums, makes the action sound as if it was recorded live as opposed to in a studio. This really enhances the energy and feel of the album, and the drums are the recorded instrument that seem to benefit the most from this mixing treatment.

The album ends with a cover of "Killer on the Loose," originally performed by Thin Lizzy. In some way it feels like an unnecessary track considering that most of the tracks here are quite strong, making this cover feel like the leftover stale bread you offer your friends at the end of a meal and hangout at your place in which they've overstayed their welcome in an effort to get them to leave. It's not to say the cover is bad, because it's really well done, and thematically fits the album really well. However, it is not the true closer, which is actually the track "Murderous Militia," which appropriately ends with this rather appropriate echoing lyric "Vulture kills!" Standout tracks worth highlighting are "The Garotte" with its especially melodic writing and catchy chorus section, "Dewer's Hollow" with its unique energy that sets it apart from the other tracks, and "Stainless Glare," which starts with a strong and creepy slasher movie sense of atmosphere before turning into a groovy riff-fest with a nice relaxed guitar solo section resolving with great twin leads.

Ultimately this album will absolutely satisfy fans of the 2017 album, The Guillotine, as it has an almost identical sound. In fact, many songs here could be replaced with songs from that album and you probably won't always notice. Perhaps that could be seen as a negative in that these tracks feels quite familiar. However, for a guy like myself, this album really hits the spot. This is highly recommended, especially if you are a fan of bands like Evil Invaders, Razor, and Ranger.

More about Vulture...
Review: Dealin' Death (reviewed by Michel Renaud)
Review: Sentinels (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: The Guillotine (reviewed by MetalMike)
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