Monday, November 14, 2011

Vastum: Carnal Law (2011)


San Francisco, 1993: A few of guys see Autopsy play, trade bootleg Incantation tapes, and hear a rote description of My Dying Bride's As the Flower Withers (without actually hearing the album itself). They get piss-drunk, buy some time at a studio, and lay down six primitive, raw, doomy death metal tracks. After making and selling a dozen copies, they lose the master tape, and the erstwhile band just sort of fades into nonexistence. There's one guy out on the Internet who heard it once, and swears it's the greatest death metal album ever made, but his copy is stuck in the tape deck of the '89 Civic he wrecked. Eighteen years later, a savvy construction worker with a Possessed tattoo finds a copy while tearing down a condemned apartment building.

OK, I made up that story. But if that were true, it would sound exactly like Vastum's Carnal Law.

There are probably a dozen mostly-forgotten albums from 1993 that are just like this 2011 debut. They have a raw, slow death metal sound. There are some good riffs, but nothing that really stands out as anything special. The solos often resemble something out of Slayer. It's not the greatest death metal album ever released. But it ain't too shabby either. Basically, it's just here to convince you that you want to see this band live. And if they sound like this live, then you should.

The Verdict: It's not groundbreaking. It's not unique. But it's solid. It's exactly like a couple dozen death metal albums from 1993 that have been forgotten--except for that one guy who swears by it. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. Your post made me chuckle but I think you undersell Vastum.

    Here are a couple of interesting points (IMHO) about Vastum that you don't mention.

    - This record is a demo even though it's been released by 20 Buck Spin. It's not their full debut.

    - Vastum features vocalist/guitarist Leila Abdul-Rauf. It's quite unusual to see women in death metal and she definitely cuts it on her own terms. She is also in Hammers of Misfortune with John Cobbett.

    - Vastum shares several members with Acephalix, including vocalist Dan. I think it's interesting how the two bands' sounds complement each other.

    - I know you are not big on lyrics and neither am I. However, it's unusual that these guys ignore the usual gore and violence for a literate exploration of pyschosexuality.

    Anyway, that's my 2c!

  2. I knew it was a demo, but I didn't find out about the personnel until after I wrote the review. I decided against changing it because I think my story tells you what to expect about the vibe and sound much better than info about who's in the band.

  3. It was definitely a good read!

  4. I demand a retrial :)

    I think your review was a little more 'meh' than the album deserved. But that's probably because I don't hear bandx or bandy when I play it, just Vastum. With great male-female growling, razor-sharp soloing and that raw and almost lumbering rhytm section.

    And then the Bandcamp.. I added Vastum to the blog here

  5. Heh, I added Vasaeleth to the blog. They make Vastum sound like tech death :)