Album: My Place of Solace and Rest
Many of us spend our entire lives tortured by one thing or another. From the very second we grow old enough to understand the world and how it works, we are burdened with this knowledge. We slave away in school—elementary, middle and high—only to be told “if you really want to achieve anything, go to college.” Sometimes it ends there—but what about professional school? Work? Even in retirement we still are slaves to responsibilities that come with living. In essence, we spend our lives living—as Vesuvius put it—to find our death: our place of solace and rest. Living up to both the morose nature of the album name and the grandiose band name, Vesuvius’ debut full length, My Place of Solace and Rest is a towering, emotional display of musical mastery. Sprawling from spine-splitting segments of metalcore and deathcore inflicted brutality to peaceful, serene moments influenced by shoegaze and post-rock, My Place of Solace and Rest is as sudden, stifling and lethal as death itself, yet simultaneously refreshing and restful.
Imagine a gargantuan stretch of mountains—monoliths of stone and earth formed by thousands upon thousands of years of geological activity. There are peaks—parts of the formation obscured by clouds and haze—just as there are deep gouges in the earth’s visage forming valleys. In this aspect, Vesuvius are perfectly named, as they hit high, soaring seconds of peace and tranquility that are paralleled powerfully by grisly, churning aggression and heaviness. Carter Peak (continuing the mountain imagery) provides the foundation for this variety with his excellent drumming. Peak’s percussion sees boundless speed and technicality on “Semea,” where his work on “Dear Death” is light and jazzy, climaxing only at the apex of the song with crashing cymbals and a cracking series of snare hits. Peak oscillates between his two extremes with practiced precision—with short, quiet interludes rocketing into raunchy grooves and ruthless breakdowns fluidly and fleetly. Peak’s talent gives guitarist Michael Luc Malo something to build from; and build he does. “This House is Not a Home” is an excellent example: with many a metallic riff dropping into relentless breakdowns, all while taking time to channel crystal clear post-rock tones. Interludes like “Bitter,” or the introduction “Amalurra” see Malo in a more benign light, working with keys player Robin Parsons to create simply enormous atmosphere, cavernous enough for every listener around the world to get lost in. The two don’t just work together to create peace, however—as “Semea” proves, the duo are more than adept at creating scintillating, sharp and shredding passages that leave the listener tattered.
Where Vesuvius’ songwriting is nothing short of perfect, the band’s vocal dynamic is unique and unparalleled. Ben Cooligan and Billy Melsness create moments of intensity sharp and scathing enough to cut through your ribs so their truly heart-rending lines can hit as heard as they are meant to. Take “Hibernate,” for example: beginning with pointed aggression and belted, burly harsh vocals, the track reaches a climax beautiful enough to draw tears from a stone—let alone catchy enough to stay lodged in the listener’s head like a meningeal infection. Every track sees the duo using mid-range and low screams alongside crystalline, cleanly crooned singing to reach out to the listener in ways most bands can’t even come close to. Where some will blindly think “oh, another metalcore band with two vocalists. Yawn,” the joke is on them. What Cooligan and Melsness do is unlike anything out there, and beyond descriptive ability.
I’ve been writing reviews for a long time for a lot of bands—so when I say that a band is truly difficult to describe in a way that does their sound justice, I’d like to think it bears weight. This is the case with Canadian act Vesuvius. Where the interlude and whimsical nature of “Gentle” leave a little more material to be desired, wanting more of something tends to speak well for its quality (and it definitely does for Vesuvius). Ultimately My Place of Solace and Rest is packed with emotion and energy—crushing heaviness and calming peace—making it one of the year’s most diverse and intriguing releases yet. Moments like the ultra-heavy, almost-deathcore-esque drumming at the end of “Semea” and the poetic “Dear Death,” seem like they’re two different bands—yet both styles are done equally. When Cooligan and Melsness anthropomorphize death as a scorned lover, anyone who has struggled with depression and death will feel the duo tugging at their heartstrings. Vesuvius relate to the listener with bizarre ease, making My Place of Solace and Rest as rejuvenating as a good night’s sleep.
For Fans Of: Invent, Animate, Northlane, Pianos Become the Teeth, Russian Circles, Underoath
By: Connor Welsh