Doom is a more musically diverse and creative genre than it’s usually given credit for being. Sure, to an extent all doom bands share common DNA through the use of conservative tempos, but that’s all. Just as an example, it would be extraordinarily difficult to make a compelling case that Candlemass, Burning Witch, and Evoken have anything in common at all, beyond maintaining a low bpm count. And there are bands that carve out all sorts of musical space for themselves, between the sounds mentioned above and well beyond them as well.
I bring all of this up because Vile Creature, and their new EP A Pessimistic Doomsayer, shine a light on just how nuanced, diverse, and layered doom metal can be. At varying points throughout the song’s 18 minutes, you might feel anything from reluctant optimism to bleak despair, and several shades in between along the way. It’s their deftness with putting raw emotion into music that sets Vile Creature apart from other doom metal bands.
Of course, there’s plenty of heft and grime when the time comes for Vile Creature to operate at peak volume. But even in those moments, the manages manages to include pangs of fragility. The main riff of the song’s first sonically heavy section begins with the all-important, devastating downbeat, but slowly the notes travel up and down the fretboard. The guitars climb and fall, finally hitting a peak only topple downward, like someone trying to climb out of a hole but losing their footing. It’s those descending notes that seem particularly devastating, even if they’re performed more gently.
Where the instrumental aspects of the song take on the characteristics of painful struggle, so too do the lyrics. The opening lyrics, beautifully sung by guest vocalist Laurel Minnes sets the tone for what will follow:
you must fall
frail and weak”.
Minnes’ soft harmony leading into such a decimating dirge sets up a stark contrast between her graceful voice, and the grimy guitars and colossal drums. It also has the effect of pointing out that metal need not always scream about plight, as sometimes a delicate hand can wield just as much force as the one wielding a hammer. Minnes’ contributions throughout reinforce that point. Her voice also offers a musical counterpoint to the harsher vocals Vic and KW tend towards, helping their vocals come across as all the more corrosive and biting by comparison.
A Pessimistic Doomsayer is a big step forward for Vile Creature, even as their debut was great in its own right. This one song stands above any from A Steady Descent Into the Soil. It’s an anguished journey via music, and a song that builds a world within your mind as you listen to it. The details of that world will obviously be different from person to person, but this is music that encourages the listener to close their eyes and imagine something more wondrous than what we’re greeted with in the waking world. Or, as Vile Creature would put it:
“i rebuke reality as a binary. i construct my own earth”.