Brewing up a dark and increasingly compelling mix of heavy and doom metal with occult metal bred toxins, US death rock/metal project Vestal Claret unleash their first release since recently signing with Cruz del Sur Music. The Cult of Vestal Claret is a deviously addictive encounter which revisits older songs alongside new and leaves the imagination blissfully corrupted and appetite alive for the band’s subsequent conjurations.
The album brings recorded tracks from the band’s split with Ungod in 2012, a reworking epic encounter which made up the band’s split with The Kissing Flies in the same year, and four new songs including a Black Sabbath cover. It is a mixed bag but one which leaves appetite hungry and pleasure invigorated as the release casts its intensive and imposing weighty design over the senses. Released as a nine track CD or a six song vinyl, each offering one encounter exclusive to itself, The Cult of Vestal Claret is a potent entrance into the dark spawning of the band for newcomers and a pleasingly rewarding addition to the passions of existing fans.
Vestal Claret is the creation of vocalist Philip Swanson (Hour Of 13/Seamount) who met Simon Tuozzoli (bass, guitar, organ, vocals) when recording his occult heavy metal ideas at the studio the latter ran; linking up the duo emerged as Vestal Claret. A couple of demos in 2007 led to a split with Atlantean Kodex the same year which itself was followed by a couple of EPs, Worship and Lost Loved Ones in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Debut album Bloodbath two years later drew stronger and eager attention the way of the band with its CD release last year raising extra appetite for this, Vestal Claret’s first offering since signing with their new label. As ever theming their songs with the dark side of the human psyche employing references to Occultism, Satanism and other uncompromising imagery, you would understandably suspect that The Cult of Vestal Claret coming with a multitude of old already released songs would have a disappointing edge to it but it is fair to say that the pair, with Michael Petrucci providing the drum work, infuse plenty of refreshing aspects to the songs to make them it a sizeable reward.
Looking at the CD version, the album opens with the immediately captivating Never Say No. Its initial touch is a drizzling melodic haze veined by distant whispers but is soon smothered by a rigorously coaxing wave of sinewed riffs, crisp rhythms, and enticing sonic endeavour. Into its feisty stride the vocals of Swanson bring appealing expression to the emerging narrative, the restrained chorus with both artists united in voice, especially potent anthemic bait. The track is a nagging proposition across the bulk of its magnetic body with irresistible grooves and flares of melodic enterprise infesting ears and thoughts for a thoroughly contagious start to the album. One of the new songs on the album it alone reveals the potential and maturing invention of the band ensuring future horizons are as keenly anticipated as this release was.
The following Three and Three Are Six is a touch of an anti-climax, though the great throaty bass tones and seductively gifted hooks soon have emotions on board with the infectiousness of the track. The song continues to swagger and stomp purposefully with its metallic lures and muscular intent but the dramatic spark which lit its predecessor is a more dormant fuse within the cloudier presence of the track. All the same it is an excellently crafted and catchy blaze of intensive metal endeavour leaving a hunger for more, which the title track next tries to offer. The Cult of the Vestal has a raw and darker essence to its rapacious prowling of the senses, lyrically and musically reaping malevolence for its invasive premise. Again there is a niggling repetition to the focus of the track which only increases its temptation though it is the heavily breathing intensity which awakes the imagination with its provocative smothering most forcibly.
The exclusive song to the CD comes next and steals the honours within the release. Great Goat God is a thrilling incitement with a reined in rampancy which threatens to slip its chain throughout and a bewitching venomous coating to grooves and deeply scything hooks which insidiously worm under the skin. From the excellent vocals to the stalking riffs skirted by antagonistic beats, the track seduces and enslaves the passions; its blues soaked imagination flirting with the inventive sculpting of the guitar whilst adding to the insatiable and impossible to refuse toxicity of the song. It is the pinnacle of the album and almost alone the reason to grab the album.
Both The Demon and the Deceiver and Piece of Meat which were originally on the previously mentioned EP with Ungod, keep ears and appetite contented though neither can step up to the same plateau as the previous track. The dramatic air and emotive shadows in the first of the two makes for a mouthwatering proposition which leads the imagination into exploring its depths to the excellent acoustic accompaniment of the guitars within a threatening squall of ambience. The track is a real grower and really benefits from the fresh brushing up for the album whilst the second of the pair rampages with addictive jagged grooves and fiery sonics as it spreads a heavy metal fuelled smog over ears. Again it is a song which takes time to fully grip but with the great incessant groove which cores its flare it was never really in doubt, especially with the distant but alluring keys adding extra tempting.
The sixteen minute plus Black Priest is masterful and epic journey through the skills, songwriting, and creative vision of the band. The track is an intensive journey in itself, a perpetual evolution through dramatic sceneries amidst sonically coloured landscapes with psychedelically kissed melodies and stirring intensive hues hinting at intimidation and danger. The track is simply enthralling, if a little too long so that intrigue for the following songs before their time shows its face at times, and just adds more depth to the promises of richer things ahead.
The closing pair of Who Are You, that Black Sabbath track and new song The Stranger are decent enough but to be honest after the last epic encounter and the other impressive moments of the release are a bit of a damp if enjoyable squib. That may be a touch harsh but certainly they lack the wares to light up the room and emotions as shown on other tracks though still give the album a skilfully presented and appealing conclusion.
The Cult of Vestal Claret is a very solid and at times scintillating encounter which can only drew a new hungry crowd into the arms of the band’s potent sound.
The Cult of Vestal Claret is available via Cruz del Sur Music now!
Vinyl album listing
Never Say No Again
Three and Three Are Six
The Cult of the Vestal
So Mote it Be
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
Listen to the best independent music and artists on The RingMaster Review Radio Show and The Bone Orchard from