Pittsburgh troublemaking five-piece Vulture let loose their self-titled, self-released debut EP toward the end of last year, profering an avalanche of burly, angry doom building riff after riff of aggressive, balls-out metal. The five tracks run a gamut through modern doom, soaking up ’90s influences and spitting them out like a rain of Pipe Organ Pale Ale falling on the head of anyone who hears them. A given listen uncovers shades of Goatsnake, Melvins, Danzig, and even some Paradise Lost lurking in the growled vocals of Buddy Smith.
Guitarists Garrett Twardesky and Gene Fikhman practically beat you over the head as they lead the way through the songs with a tone both covered in fuzz and molasses thick. A well-presented crash cymbal from drummer Kelly Gabany keeps pace for eight-minute closer “Ill-Fitting Crown” as bassist Justin Bach demolishes the low end and Smith gurgles that he has become the night. Smith switches his approach readily with the music, perhaps manically at times, but whatever he’s doing, it’s never out of place in the song. The beauty of this kind of chaotic drunkard metal is that as a vocalist, he can either be the slurring, repentive crooner or the bottle-throwing, vomitous madman — it all works.
I’d put these dudes on a tour with Bulletwolf and have them lay waste to every major city in the continental US. More entrenched in groove-soaked riffing than their Hoosier peers, these steel merchants are in and out of their 26 minutes sooner than you can say “Roethlisberger” and by leaving listeners wanting more, they not only create a demand for themselves, but add an immediacy to the songs present here. There isn’t an extra minute on Vulture; it’s an efficient (if drunken and stoned) doom attack that punches the gut and leaves a five-fingered imprint, with chugging, thumping opener “Erosion” a canyon-carving force as big as its name.
Pace-wise, Vulture generally run from about the middle to the slower end without ever getting into drone territory, but aren’t afraid to throw faster, double kick bass or some Erik Larson/Ryan Lake style rocking into the mix on “Blinded,” highlighting their metallic side and easily transitioning into the classic deathly Southern stoner punkcore of “Order of the Vulture (A Birdwatcher’s Anthem).” That variety only makes the EP stronger, resulting in a bomb blast of bearded heavy metal that bodes remarkably well for future output.
Born of the economic devastation wrought on post-industrialized communities, Vulture is a pissed-off response to being screwed over by forces allegedly larger than one’s self. Their sound is disaffected, disillusioned and almost unfairly heavy. They’re not reinventing the wheel, but they’re definitely using it to sharpen an executioner’s axe.
Tags: Beer doom, Pittsburgh, Vulture