Vastum – Carnal Law

Posted on April 12, 2011


20 Buck Spin



And so the first significant entry into this year’s New Wave of Old School Death Metal (NWOOSDM) canon is submitted by San Francisco’s Vastum. Originally released as a demo earlier this year, Carnal Law is receiving the full-length reissue treatment courtesy of 20 Buck Spin, the relentlessly badass Olympia, Wash.-based label that discovered retro metal crew Christian Mistress in its own backyard and deflowered our young virgin ears with Japanese death/doom trio Coffins. So chances are these newcomers will be worth your time. Actually, there’s nothing rookie about Vastum. A quick perusal of their lineup reveals three members of SF death dealers Acephalix and Leila Abdul-Rauf, axewoman for underrated proggers Saros and underground icons Hammers of Misfortune.

What Abdul-Rauf and her partners in grime conjure on Carnal Law is a solid, no bullshit collection of death metal tunes we heard decades ago on stone cold classics like Leprosy and in the aforementioned recent cropping of revivalists such as Bloodbath and Obliteration. You’ve got your tortured, guttural howling, with Abdul-Rauf trading off with someone simply named “Dan” for some sweet call and response rarely heard in the genre, and those dissonant-yet-controlled solos that made James Murphy such an integral inclusion on Cause of Death. But if there’s one thing Vastum can teach the next generation of sweatpants ‘n’ longsleeve-sporting youth, it’s that speed isn’t everything, and sometimes a meaty groove can be equally as punishing. “Devoid” has it in droves, pounding primal riffery into our skulls until alternate picking straight from the Schuldiner Academy of Shred saws off a few bars of thrash topped with whammy bar dive bombs aplenty. Oh yeah, and there’s another three minutes left that’s filled with more of everything. In fact, Carnal Law is so rife with mid-paced chugging that it will likely confuse a generation not raised on Mental Funeral and classic Swededeath. They’re so used to hyper-speed blasting that they forgot how to stop worrying about technical prowess and love the brutality. You hear those riffs, kids? That world-ending reverb between string scraping on “Primal Seduction”? “Spirit Abused”’s compulsively head-bangable verse and seductive outro leads? We need more of all that. Thanks to Vastum and a growing contingent in the primitivist movement, order is being restored with a pile of hacked limbs left behind.

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