Album: Lord of Plagues – EP
Parasitism. Relentless, rambunctious rot. Surreptitiously scourging countless nations and millions of individuals, the infection spreads—through touch, contact, blood and sweat. There is no stopping it, no medical classification appropriate to define its lethality. That’s what I think of when I think of the word “plague,” at least: an infection so cripplingly contagious that simply cannot be combated with conventional medicine. Appropriately enough, the same can be said for the debut EP from the two-man slamming deathcore outfit Vulvodynia: Lord of Plagues. With blistering, lightning-fast percussion and muddy, yet shred-heavy, fretwork alongside a cavalcade of unintelligible—yet impressive—vocals, Vulvodynia oppress the listener into a state of sheer sickness, melting their flesh and liquefying their organs with perfunctory, slamming efficiency—even if the EP is too short and lacking enough in diversity to make a lasting impact.
The incubation period for the infectious monstrosity that Vulvodynia present the listener with is short—perhaps on the order of seconds. From the very get-go, Lord of Plagues manifests itself with top-notch slamming death metal instrumentation that any veteran of the genre will be more than familiar with. Built on a study scaffold of lightning-fast, fill-friendly percussion and galloping, mile-a-minute bass guitar, tracks “Drowned in Vomit” and “Forced Fecal Ingestion” are skull-splittingly intense from start to finish. Blast beats rattle in the listener’s ear like a machine gun—and pierce their skull just as readily—while the bass swings with short, stabbing hacks; thinly slicing skin from muscle as if it was from an upstate deli. While the low, writhing percussion and bass blast and bludgeon away, the guitar rolls right in the mud alongside with it. “Drowned In Vomit” showcases this standard slamming deathcore criteria effectively, with riffs and grooves that only occasionally lurch upwards from the filth and grime of the percussion to lash out at the listener with lacerating solos or fleet flourishes across the fret board.
While the instrumentation maintains a well-rounded and meticulously mastered standard for slamming deathcore, the vocal work throughout Lord of Plagues is engaging and one of the few elements of Vulvodynia’s acrid, intense assault on the listener that truly stands out. While a vast majority of slamming, intense deathcore acts rely solely on squeals and raspy, monotonous inward screams, Vulvodynia break the mold ever-so-slightly. While there is still the abuse of a vacuum-like, intense inward scream to be had (especially on “Drowned in Vomit,”) there is the addition of harsh, almost hardcore-like yells and screams that just barely reach into the spectrum of intelligibility. “Lord of Plagues” does this particularly well, carefully balancing the standard “bree” and “squee” style vocals with a newfound penchant for barked, harsh shouts—allowing the listener to at least obtain bits and pieces of the lyrics within each track. Furthermore, this slight vocal diversity allows Vulvodynia just the tidbit of unique, dynamic flavor they need to pull themselves apart from the pack—even if it’s only by a hair’s breadth, and still doesn’t completely cure what ails the dynamic duo.
Ultimately, Lord of Plagues is home to—well—its own plagues. While Vulvodynia create archetypical slamming death metal, punctuated with moments of uncanny heaviness and chug-friendly harmonization, there is still little to separate the band from others in their genre—a genre which already suffers from monotony. True—the vocals add some flare to each track, allowing portions to stand out from the blur of blast beats and bass-heavy, plodding fretwork, that fails to redeem the instrumental versions of each track, which, truthfully strike the listener as closer to pointless than purposeful. To put it simply, Vulvodynia’s EP is too greatly lacking in material to veritably immerse the listener, and, while it is exceptionally performed slamming deathcore, it won’t do much to convince non-enthusiasts of the genre to change their mind.
If the sickness that is Lord of Plagues grips you, it will do so relentlessly, refusing to let go or loosen its fingers in the slightest. However, the nature of Vulvodynia’s vicious, intense assault on the listener is such that if they are not already predisposed to infection, they aren’t likely to come down with much more than a sniffle.
For Fans Of: Ingested, Acranius, Whoretopsy, Waking the Cadaver
By: Connor Welsh