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VITRIOL To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Thursday, September 5, 2019 @ 10:32 AM


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VITRIOL
To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice

Century Media Records




The death metal trio – now apparently a quartet with the recent addition of guitarist Mike Ashton - VITRIOL definitely do not exist in the idealized stoner/hippy/chill version of Portland so brilliantly, and often hilariously, characterized on Portlandia. Theirs is no progressive wonderland of farmer's markets and food trucks, feminist bookstores, hybrid cars, hipsters and militant political correctness. Instead, it's a sodden hellhole of dope fiends, serial killers, doomsday cults and paranoid militias.

To Bathe From The Throat of Cowardice, the band's full-length debut, paints a pretty grim picture by its title alone – not to mention its throat-slashing cover art. And with songs like “I Drown Nightly”, “The Rope Calls You Brother”, “Pain Will Define Their Death”, “Violence, a Worthy Truth” and “Legacy of Contempt”, VITRIOL revels in, well, vitriol and, per the band's Facebook profile, aspires to “worship violence”. So there you go.

And then, of course, there's the music. The grinding, unceasingly brutal, hyper-speed death metal punctuated by the two-headed monster vocal attack of guitarist Kyle Rasmussen and bassist Adam Roethlisberger, echoing at times NILE, MORBID ANGEL, VADER, HATE ETERNAL, ORIGIN and ANAAL NATHRAKH. If you want “fast and furious”, look no further. Scott Walker’s drum fusillades sound like Rambo with his .50-caliber machine gun on auto-fire. The blast-beat/double-bass battery rarely ebbs – and only on “Violence, a Worthy Truth” or “I Drown Nightly” is there anything approximating “mid-tempo” for any prolonged stretches.

The bulk of Cowardice is a tumultuous tangle of churning riffage - as Rasmussen and Roethlisberger saw away in unison and with abandon - stitched together with occasionally jaw-dropping displays of dexterity. The complexity here – notably on the seizure-inducing “The Rope Calls You Brother”, “Hive Lungs” or “A Gentle Gift” - can be quite astonishing, given the velocity with which the music is typically delivered.

It’s easy to see why the band recruited another guitarist – at least for its upcoming tour commitments, which includes a run with the aforementioned NILE and HATE ETERNAL. A second, or I guess third, set of hands is needed to recreate the full extent of VITRIOL's savagery in a live environment, especially as Rasmussen and Roethlisberger also share vocal duties – although their back and forth growls and hollers offer nowhere near the extreme contrasts of NILE.

The 10-track Cowardice includes six fresh songs and updated versions of “Victim”, “Violence, a Worthy Truth”, “The Parting Of A Neck” and “Pain Will Define Their Death” from the band's 2017 EP of the same name. The new takes benefit from a gritter, heftier mix, which only makes the already lethal tunes all the moreso.

Not to sound like a cranky old bastard, but death metal rarely surprises these days. What you see is usually what you get. But the combination of musicianship, aggression, audacity and sheer brute force on display from VITRIOL makes To Bathe from the Throat of Cowardice a truly eye-opening – not to mention face ripping - full-length debut. It might not necessarily offer much that's new, but its utter relentlessness is really quite breath-taking – especially when compared to the epic sprawl of the “Cascadian black metal” that typifies the region’s extreme music output. Here's hoping there's more of where this came from in the Pacific Northwest.

4.5 Out Of 5.0


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