EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Vilis – Vilis [EP/2015]


Artist: Vilis

Album: Vilis – EP

By several sets of pale hands–pale riders upon blanched, remorseless steeds–the curtains of judgement have been drawn back, and doomsday rains down upon the earth. Lush landscapes of vivid greenery and rambunctious livelihood are reduced to scarred soil and ashen decay. The survivors–the unsaved–are left to rot  and live out their days in fear, cowering under the stern gaze and infernal tempers of judgement’s henchmen. Who are these bringers of the apocalypse? None other than Baltimore brutalizers Vilis, and their self-titled architect of annihilation. Wielding vicious grooves, nerve-numbing technicality and bone-shattering heaviness as weapons with which to bring about the end of days, Vilis are a force to be reckoned with, and creators of an EP that leaves no survivors.

Four sets of hands set to work at tearing the sky in twain and letting loose a rain of plagues and fire upon the earth–unleashing a portal through which every fleshed form shall be set on trial. These four bringers of the apocalypse are none other than the instrumental warhorses behind Vilis’ self-titled EP. Whether it’s the percussion of Brenham Purves and writhing bass work of Ryan Wyant or the intense tag-team fretted slaughterhouse provided by guitarists Travis Clymens and Jayvon Green, every aspect of Vilis’ musicianship is carefully crafted and honed to the sharpness of a Hottori Honzo katana. Whether it’s the frantic, jarring opening portion to   “Famine || Et Fame” or the eerie build-up to the climax “War || Fruit,” Purves and Wyant can always be found providing boundless levels of absolutely brutalizing energy. With every boom of Purves’ punishing kick drum or each snapping pluck of Wyant’s bass, the listener can feel a rib snap, as they are the most tangible and aggressive part of Vilis’ vivid instrumental dynamic. However, just because Purves and Wyant are masterful at their musical duties does not make Clymens and Green slackers. This is proven in the EP’s debut single, “Death || Mortem,” where the duo let loose with a constant landslide of grooves and chugs that are neither monotonous nor needlessly technical. Rather, Clymens and Green stride effortlessly on a tightrope between instrumental intensity and heartless heaviness.

These greedy, gruesome hands rip and tear a portal to another dimension–a portal that unleashes pure pain and torment upon the listener in the form of Vilis’ dual vocal onslaught. Jesus Rivera and Brandon West are simply unstoppable. Whether it’s the first startling syllables of “Pestilence || Pestilentia” or the disemboweling climax to “Devil || Diabolous,” Rivera and West are as murderous as they are relentless. They provide a constant narrative that gives Vilis a great and immerse theme to keep the listener engaged, bringing Biblical themes together with modern-day malevolence to give the listener relatable lyrics to go along with the duo’s catchy vocal dynamic. Shrill screams and throaty roars flank gruff, mid-range shouts to let loose a comprehensive vocal onslaught upon the listener that keeps them not just interested, by rather, completely addicted.

By the diabolical duo of Rivera and West, aided by the crushing, colorful musical backdrop provided by Vilis’ hellacious instrumental henchmen, the world of heavy music as we know it is given a furious facelift. Vilis’ debut EP is an immense soundscape dotted with moments that are nothing short of musical brilliance. The build up to the conclusion of “War || Fruit” is one such moment. An eerie, atypical riff leads into a tipsy-turvy prolapse-inducing breakdown that pierces the listener’s skin like a needle, but coats their veins like morphine. Before long, Vilis’ unique blend of nu-metallic thrash and hefty down-tempo destruction becomes a drug that he listener can’t help but crave, even as it rots them from the inside out.

A perfect balance between brutality and bounce, Vilis’ debut EP is a lethal force that is honest enough to bring judgement to the world, yet relentless enough to smother the listener in sin. Plunging Earth into eternal shadow, Vilis are the bringers of heavy music’s reckoning–a reckoning it is not prepared to receive.


For Fans Of: Barrier, Beacons, Victims, PRESTIGE, RVNT

By: Connor Welsh