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Album Of The Month December 2014
Vircolac | ‘Codex Perfida’


Early death metal had a particular intensity about it. Bands played their hearts out to show how much they meant it, because they had to – their credibility depended on it.

Nowadays we know those albums as classics. And it’s not just nowadays – they’ve almost always been regarded that way. So it should surprise noone that musician fans would want to return to that ethos.

That’s what Vircolac are all about, and all credit to them, because they’ve done it the right way.

This isnt a bunch of well known ‘scene characters’ putting out a tape of some perfunctory bangings about because it’s trendy. This is a demo of absolutely superb songs.

Full disclosure, many of you will know the bands guitarist Jamie Grimes from writing here on MI. It hardly colours my judgement because these tracks speak so powerfully for themselves.

Vircolac take their time over things. Rather than rush in all guns blazing, they do what the best bands of the early 90s did. To wit: develop atmosphere and purpose, before unfurling into songs of depth that really go somewhere.

So it starts with an dark, distant drumbeat and piano composition that spells dusk and cobwebs before the first of three varied and impressively layered songs.

‘Confessio’ is a superb opener, wholly confident in its 8 minute length. The absolutely saturdated guitar tone that will lead us through the rest of the release is established, as well as the tremolo picked and crunch riffing style so familiar to fans of ‘Soulside Journey’.

Though that oddball Darkthrone record seems about the best representative of this track, there’s also a discernable nod, in tone and approach, to ‘As The Flower Withers’-era My Dying Bride. At the halfway stage, having got the intial thrash of naked limbs out of the way, it slows to an absolutely crepuscular delivery, augmented by those piano tinkles and some judicious atmospheric sampling.

‘The Worm Turns’ is perhaps the most interesting of these three tracks, relying on what I suspect is the more prominent influence of Jamie’s Drainland style of composition – dark plucks and uncommon chords. What’s really arresting about it is that it’s got an almost major chordal progression that sort of throws you out of your comfort zone.

All of that is before it gets totally Autopsy in the most reverential of homages.

It’s taken me a while to get used to it, but I’m now even coming to appreciate the elastic, wobbly bass tone that underpins it all. With some really great harmonies close to the close, it raises to a true crescendo.

There is even more variety as the demo’s most frenetic track, the speedy ‘Effigy’ flares up. It’s without doubt their most aggressive, again referencing those times in very earliest My Dying Bride where the band went briefly nuts.

Again, this is a track that builds to a surprisingly grand conclusion for this style – in this instance aided by a nicely done and uber-Morbid Angel flanger.

The band have taken everything authentic about playing deathly, atmospheric metal and just plain gone out and done it, superbly.

It’s funny, becasue in a way I sort of hope they never put out an album. It seems to me they dont need to. If all they ever did was two more exquisite EPs like this they’d have more than fulfilled their purpose of writing fantastically distilled DM.

As with Malthusian, they have one foot in the past and another somewhere sideways than that. I say that because a very close listening of this – and I have listened to it very closely, very many times – reveals some smart, far removed from Death Metal musical mores in here. ‘The Worm Turns’ is clear on that one.

It’s just a fundamentally brilliant set of songs, produced on just the right side of ‘authentic’ and with tons of musical nous.

Like the classics of the past, it is not complicated: just write great songs and mean your music.

Vircolac do, and the results speak for themselves.

4.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 11/12/14


22 Comments
  1. Nice one

  2. Very well written review I totally agree with, awesome EP, awesome band!

  3. 1.8

  4. This is good stuff, bought it and am enjoying it loads but this is a demo/EP, how can this fill the ‘Album of the month’ section?

  5. According to clause 2.3 subsection b part (ii) of Metalireland Constitution 2001, force majeure is invoked owing to it being better than anything else this month.

  6. Ha fair enough! Hope more comes from them next year.

  7. Great demo and well deserved.

  8. ‘dannyolac’ haha. Have Vircolac taken the mantle from Malthusian as Dannys favourite Irish DM?

    Great release and review. Particularly very much agreed with the “one foot in the past and another somewhere sideways than that” comment.

  9. 420BIGPOPPA666 Says:

    This review reads very strangely, maybe as though the gushing for the music has overwhelmed any ability to articulate any tangible detail on its content. Not to deny the obvious worth of the music, I only gave the EP a couple of listens but I loved what I heard, but this review reads more as a list of initial impressions and comparisons rather than a more descriptive articulation of either the content of the EP. There seems to be a rather confused identifying of ‘authenticity’ here too, implying that they have lifted a sense of it from the output of bands decades old, which seems counter intuitive to the general understanding of the nature of authenticity.

  10. Tezcatlipoca Says:

    … And so it begins.

  11. Black Shepherd Says:

    Posts criticism anonymously. Simultaneously uses flowery language and bad grammar. Draws invalid conclusions and presents them as fact. Completely misses the text’s absolutely correct and subtle interplay between the genuine and false senses of “authentic” by pointedly seeking points to criticise.

    Well, that narrows that down a fair bit: I am 420BIGPOPPA666.

  12. @Mags
    No way man, Vircolac is awesome but Malthusian is on another level altogether. But I’d imagine that’s just down to my personal taste. I think essentially they are both Death Metal but actually very different.. But complimentary of each other too.

  13. Malthusian-1, Vircolac- 0.

  14. Got around to getting the download, and after a few listens I have to agree it’s pretty good. Not fully what I had expected, in a deadly way that is. No mention of the vocals in the review…I think they’re pretty decent and suit the music. Not totally drowned in reverb which is nice.

  15. Owenofhexxed Says:

    This is good – getting inexorable angelcorpse on that track confessio

  16. TotalFuneral Says:

    Wee bit of Dissection too.

  17. Have to say this is one of the best releases of the year for me. Can’t stop listening to it.

  18. Great music indeed. Too bad, the shirts have sold out!

  19. wizardinblack Says:

    Finally had a chance to give this repeat listens yesterday, it got repeat listens because the songs really come across, they’ve got personality, the playing all around is excellent and the vocals suit 100%.

  20. Not sure if I should buy this as there seems to be some awkward discussion on how valid the original review is. I want to get something that will be cool to brag about to my mates but I also want to be able to headbang to it in my bedroom when nobody’s looking.

  21. The review is 100% legit. I watched Darragh put the brown envelope in the post myself.

  22. Ordered the shirt with the red logo, yeeeaaaah!!! Great sound!!

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