Positivity probably isn’t the first word you think of when talking about the ultra-nihilist realms of doom and sludge metal. Traditionally it’s been a genre that wallows in the darkest corners of the human psyche, taking in everything from existential dread and depression to human depravity and cosmic horror. However, Ontario experimental doom duo Vile Creature are looking to shine a little light in the darkness with their third album Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!.
A self-described “angry queer gloom cult”, Vile Creature are one of the most creative and passionate bands working in extreme music. Alongside like-minded acts such as Dawn Ray’d, Feminazgul, Neckbeard Deathcamp and Cloud Rat, they have played an instrumental role in the current crop of anti-fascist and anti-capitalist bands that have been making the scene so exciting in recent years.
Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! feels like the album they were born to make. Following the despair of their debut A Steady Decent Into The Soil (not to mention the equally impressive follow-up EP A Pessimistic Doomsayer) and the sci-fi escapism of Cast Of Static And Smoke (inspired by left-wing writers such as Ursula Le Guin and Octavia Butler), Glory, Glory… finds the band tapping into a seam of visceral emotion which seeks to fight against both political and personal apathy. Despite the music’s inherent darkness (it is a heady mix of doom, noise, crust and post-punk after all) this is an album with conviction and optimism at its heart.
Opener ‘Harbinger Of Nothing’ – initially released last year as part of an Adult Swim compilation – sets the tone, kicking off with the duo’s thunderous guitar-and-drums assault before morphing into something more atmospheric mid-way through. All the while Vic and KW’s vocals give the track an emotional heft that’s impossible to ignore. Elsewhere, ‘When The Path Is Unclear’ recalls crust bands like Morne with its slow-burning refrain and spoken word passages, while ‘You Who Has Never Slept’ incorporates subtle yet effective electronics to give it a strong melodic undercurrent beneath all the heaviness.
The album’s centre piece is the two-part title-track, split into ‘Glory, Glory!’ and ‘Apathy Took Helm!’. The former is a fully-fledged choral piece, mixing guest vocalist Laurel Minnes’ soothing voice with David Lynch-esque clean guitar to create something unlike anything the band have done before. On ‘Apathy Took Helm’, the disparate strands of the band’s sound converge, with the choir’s ethereal vocals melding stunningly with the band caustic yet epic sound.
This is an album which reveals greater depths with each listen, at once both deeply personal yet expressly political, it’s a call to arms to never give up in the face of hopelessness.
Glory! Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is out 19th June on Prosthetic Records. Order here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader