Vastum – Inward to Gethsemane

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Seething with rabid energy and oozing occult themes, West Coast heavy weights Vastum return with another album of blackened death metal extremity. As someone who has been a fan of the band for years I am able to say quite confidently that this is one of the best things that they have released since their early works. The album perfectly combines unbridled aggression with dark, depressive/oppressive atmosphere, but still manages to work in just enough subtle underlying groove that you’ll find yourself headbanging along at multiple points throughout each track.

Artist: Vastum

Album: Inward to Gethsemane

Label: 20 Buck Spin

Release Date: November 10, 2023

Location: San Francisco, CA, USA

Written by James Sweetlove

Seething with rabid energy and oozing occult themes, West Coast heavy weights Vastum return with another album of blackened death metal extremity. As someone who has been a fan of the band for years I am able to say quite confidently that this is one of the best things that they have released since their early works. If you’re a new fan like my friend/site admin Matt, or a die hard fan, I think you’re going to appreciate what the album has to offer.

The album perfectly combines unbridled aggression with dark, depressive/oppressive atmosphere, but still manages to work in just enough subtle underlying groove that you’ll find yourself headbanging along at multiple points throughout each track. The song lengths on the album allow each song expand and gradually develop as the unfold, it gives the listener time to really get into the rhythms and atmosphere of each track individually.

The back and forth dual vocal assault is easily one of the most defining aspects of both the band and the album’s sound. There’s a perfect balance struck between the more guttural barked style and the more biting, shrieked style. What Vastum does extremely well is stay away from excessively overlapping the two styles, something that easily ruins albums for me. The perfectly layered dual vocal approach has always felt lazy to me and muddles the overall sound, taking away power and impact from both vocal styles. Here though, each shines through clearly and you’re able to appreciate the nuance of both.

Instrumentally the album is a mix of slow, evil doom death style, more OSDM style elements with a black metal twist and higher energy almost thrash death moments. There’s plenty of moments of intensity, where the guitar tone gets more biting and piercing, but this gives way to heavily downtuned, evil and ominous sounding slower segments. These slower, more atmosphere focused moments are among my favourite on the album, but they also allow the explosions or raw aggression that follow them to be that much more impactful.

I’m not looking to go through all of my favourite tracks but I HAVE to give praise to track 6 Vomitous for being perfect death metal. Its just so aggressive and unhinged, with completely rabid vocals that I can’t get enough of it. It has a power and energy to it that at points reminds me of Bolt Thrower, as it really just moves the track along. In stark contrast is track 7 Corpus Fractum, which takes a far more slow paced, evil approach and sits right beside the previous song as being my favourite on the album. This is far more atmospheric death doom and really has an evil sound and energy to it, a perfect way to close the album.

Overall this is one hell of an extreme metal release and one that I encourage all fans of death metal to enjoy. The band have made something here with infinite replay value, a release that I keep coming back to time and time again. If I don’t know what to listen to lately, its just “okay well I’ll just listen to the new Vastum again,” and it hasn’t gotten old yet. So if you’re a long time fan or a newcomer, please enjoy what the band have to offer.

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