I’m usually in such a hurry to find new music worth saying something about that I rarely make time for videos of entire live sets. But I did that yesterday, not once but twice. In both cases I didn’t really intend to sit through the whole sets, but in both cases I couldn’t tear myself away. These two bands could hardly be more different from each other, but I think both videos are worth your time.
I’ve heard this Japanese band’s name before, most recently in connection with a Japanese tour in June planned by an interesting two-man outfit named Mossenek, which features guitarist Mick Barr (Krallice) and electronic manipulator Chuck Bettis; Vampillia will be along for that ride, together with Nadja. But although the name rang a bell, I had no idea about the music until our supporter Christian Molenaar (whose own Bandcamp page is here) encouraged me to watch the following video.
The performance was filmed at a New York City venue named Pianos on March 9, 2014, by the incomparable (((unartig))). (((unartig))) undoubtedly had his hands full trying to capture everything at this show, what with 8 people on stage and one of them frequently getting down on the floor (and writhing around on it). The performance is incredibly strange and unpredictable — unique, even — and I’m confident it will not be most peoples’ cup of tea, but it includes some rich rewards.
The first six and a half minutes are absolutely beautiful. It’s principally a lush violin and piano duet (briefly segmented by some noisy electronic manipulation). And then it becomes a kind of metal concerto, with the heavy instruments joining in as the violinist and keyboardist continue with their musical themes. There’s some funky bass playing, brief moments of Japanese melody, and wailing female vocals — but still nothing that would prepare you for what happens at about eight and a half minutes in.
At that point, a male vocalist dressed sort of like Swamp Thing takes the stage and begins screaming like he’s boiling in oil. He falls into a whisper as the violin and piano resume their duet, and you get some death metal vocals a bit later, along with the resumption of those wailing female vocals, as the music becomes more and more cacophonous. The Swamp Thing costume comes off, only to reveal another costume underneath it, resembling the musculature of a man whose skin has been flayed off.
What follows is the sight of that vocalist rolling around the floor and shrieking, singing cleanly, and croaking, with eruptions of drum blasting, a slow kind of intense black/doom passage, more violin/piano duets, a passage that sounds like a kind of alt-rock ballad, periodic explosions of grindcore insanity, and more. There is a vast amount of “what the fuck?” in this set. I can barely imagine what the recorded music sounds like — but I intend to find out.
Baptists are a crust/hardcore band from Vancouver whose debut album Bushcraft was released by Southern Lord last year. The album is really, really good — dirty, abrasive, dissonant, pummeling, sludgy, violent, atmospheric. It’s the kind of beatdown that stays with you, and pulls you back for more head trauma.
Not to take anything away from the raw vocals and the ravaging riffs, but one of Bushcraft’s genuine highlights is the drum performance of Nick Yacyshyn. And he shines in this next video, too.
The performance took place at the studio of Vancouver’s Rain City Recorders on January 17, 2014, and was beautifully filmed by Kyle Pigeau. It’s tough stuff, and I found it riveting from start to finish. Here’s the track list:
Bachelor Degree Burn 0:00
Crutching Trails 4:30
In Droves 8:05
Russian Spirits 18:18
Think Tank Breed 24:56
It’s a shame that there’s almost no streaming music on Vampilla’s bandcamp page. (One wonders why they bothered to put it up.) I can’t be the only one that wants to hear “Hefner Trombones Vol. 1.”
Here’s a lengthy tune featuring Attila from Mayhem/Sunn plus a few members of Ruins:
I think Vampillia are actually something a lot of metal fans could get into with a little bit of intense listening. In some ways they remind me of a more (and I realize this sounds odd in the context of their sound) accessible Kayo Dot. Their “pretty” parts are more melodic and their heavy parts, while obviously pretty abstract, are still headbang-able.
By the way, if you like Baptist’s style of hardcore you should check out Unsacred’s “Where the Light Dims.” It’s similarly crusty d-beat but with some black metal influence and a lot of cool atmospheric segments as well.
Even better (for cash-challenged me): It’s name your price.
You might want to check out this split by Union of Sleep and Black Sleep of Kali. Similarly dense but less hardcore and more sludge/doom, but still markedly crusty. Definitely killer stuff. Only two tracks (of four) are up on TCM’s Soundcloud but you can download both, and I’m sure you can stream the others somewhere.
In fact I just looked them up and here’s BSOK’s other track:
I can’t find Union of Sleep’s other song but I’m sure it’s up somewhere.
The Baptists is set is really damn good