(By Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Lead Journalist/Writer, RiffRelevant.com)
On November 3rd, one of 2017’s most intriguing débuts will drop in the form of Vessel Of Light‘s self-titled EP. It will be done so via Argonauta Records and I personally believe it is going to astound many a’ listener. Just the logistics of this effort and project alone is enough to blow minds, especially if you are on the more middle-aged side of life itself like some of us.
I say that because of whom comprises the duo within Vessel Of Light, for one is none other than iconic guitarist Dan Lorenzo. Dan’s own musical background contains founding member credits of East Coast metal legends Hades, prog metallers Non-Fiction and the genre-meshing The Cursed. I recently spoke to Dan about all of these, along with Vessel Of Light, in an interview that you can check out here.
Dan’s partner in VOL is none other than Nathan “Opposition” Jochum from occult doom band Ancient VVisdom. Trust me, this pairing of persons is one of the most unlikely unions to ever align themselves anywhere. Not only are these two men from very differing music backgrounds but their own spiritually based belief systems are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum also. But you know what, the fact that they can set aside certain things in the common pursuit of artistry and creativity is a huge plus on the side of musical universalism. By that, I mean the idea that music is something capable of bringing people together regardless of their personal differences. If only society as a whole could learn and embrace this notion, huh?
One of the reasons it works as well as it does here is undoubtedly Lorenzo’s own ability to write and perform music of differing styles. From metal to progressive, blues, rock and more, the man is a walking generator of genre-melding mastery. For the music here, Dan wrote it all and played all guitars and bass on it. The riffs he brings to life on this EP are quite broad in scope, they provide the basis for Nathan’s own unique style of writing lyrics and singing both. On this début, Nathan wrote the lyrics, arranged melodies and handled all vocals, and drumming too.
The six tracks here, consisting of an intro, “Where My Garden Grows“, and the five subsequent selections, are intense. That intro, though rather minimalist and stripped down, sets a mood despite its shortness. An eerie, effect-heavy guitar lick transmits a few somewhat hypnotic, repetitive notes. Not to be outdone, Nathan lays down an equally eerie vocal, one from across the void, seemingly beckoning from an otherworldly location. Lysergic references, promises of imminent enlightenment or eventual madness, the bar is set, the door is opened and we step through.
Where we arrive is the metallic heaviness of the bluesy powerhouse, “Dead Flesh And Bone” (lyric video below). It is a slowly pulsating chug-along of sludgy riffs and gravity-giving grooves, ones so heavy they pull you into their aural grasp. All the while, the vocals are a bit on the upbeat side, they ripple with emotion and near perfectly placed inflections. Not to mention Dan ignites the fuses on some incendiary solos in the song too.
Things are intentionally brought to a screeching halt with the somber sonics of the recent lyric video introduction to Vessel Of Light, “Meant To Be“. Simultaneously doomy and melancholy, the song’s mournful feel is prevalent at all times. The threats of physical violence levied in the lyrical themes are augmented by the implicit reassurances of safety and supposed immortality of some sort.
“Descend Into Death” is a hard-hitting tune right out of the gate, thick guitars and uptempo pacing grab you by the throat and pull you under. The narcotic-laden leaden lullaby is driven by the axe-heaved riffs propelling it. A bit grunge-y at points, this massive wall-of-sound selection is one of my favorites, in no small part to Nathan’s varied vocal deliveries. From sullen, semi-monotone crooning to more all-out, raspier, vehemently vicious black metal-ish ones, the vocals definitely enhance the appeal here for me.
We take a face plant dive into the realm of more traditional doom vibery with “Living Dead To The World“. The shortest song here, one clocking in at a little over two and a half minutes playing time, immediately brings to mind greats like Saint Vitus, Trouble or Solitude Aeturnus. Once you hear these guitar licks for yourself, you will know what I’m saying is true and why I say it. Plus, the vocals fuel me to make this comparison as they sound similar to what I’d imagine a cross between Eric Wagner and Acid Bath-era Dax Riggs might sound like.
Our blood pumping and pulses racing after the previous cut, we get to the life mantra-reaffirming title number, “Vessel Of Light“. Like some of the previous songs, there is further verbal reverence to LSD made paramount. The heartfelt ode to psychedelia seems quite sincere, especially in the choruses as the music’s more funk-a-delic tinting rips right along. There are more hooks here than Muhammad Ali at a professional fishing competition, ha!
Friends, welcome to Doom ‘N Groove! That’s the term that should be coined for what Vessel Of Light unleash on their stellar debut. We have rock ‘n roll, death ‘n roll, rhythm ‘n blues and much more but until now, we did not have Doom ‘N Groove. But thank God – be it the big G one or the little g one, whichever you prefer, or none at all, to each their own – that Vessel Of Light have arrived to show us the way. Their self-titled debut is an illuminating downward inclination into an undercurrent of emotive expression and aural depths. It is morosely heavenly while definitely also being one hell of a [trippy] ride!