First things first, and let’s give that artwork the credit it deserves.
A hungry blade gleams bright and murderous against a dark background – simple yet sinister.
It’s the kind of cover that brings to mind killer painted-artwork from the roaring 80’s, real works of love like Deathrow’s ‘Satan’s Gift’ or Darkness’s ‘Death Squad’.
Indeed, those kind of sweaty, underground West German groups are exactly the kind of bands that Vulture take their cues from.
In fact, if you transported this German speed metal band back in time about 35 years, they’d feel right at home.
Crucially though, they would be able to shred it up with the best of the locals.
How Dost Thou Thrash?
‘The Guillotine’, their debut full-length, doesn’t mess about in the least.
A brief intro of ‘The Exorcist’-style tinkling piano leads into a frontal assault. Think straight-up, pounding 80s metal with all the trimmings.
What’s most fun about opener ‘Vendetta’ is how it manages to sandwich in so many little twists and turns that it still grabs attention after a lot of plays. Across the record, the band manage to use practically every weapon in the speed metal arsenal.
How dost thou thrash? Let me count the ways.
High speed, abrasive riffing. Frequent roto-tom landslides. Nutty sounding vocals that veer all over the higher reaches, and, most enjoyably, an very prominent bass that really commands the frequent start-stops that the band employs.
Production-wise it’s absolutely serviceable, striking the right spot between dirty and clean. Most importantly, the riffs shine in rapid succession.
‘Clashing Iron’ might be the best song, if it wasn’t for the glorious, stabbing intro to ‘Adrian’s Cradle’.
It’s a track that makes the perfect case for the band, hitting a spot not far from Accept circa ‘Restless and Wild’ but with a healthy dose of hooks that that Enforcer would definitely appreciate.
Vulture should be commended for writing a speed metal record that manages to have genuine character in 2017.
The somewhat suspect-sounding keyboard and electronic samples used throughout are largely disposable, but ultimately add to the charm.
You might expect things to go the way of a speed overdose on this record – with it being a straight-out attack most of the time.
However, things take a nice turn for the mid-paced on ‘(This Night) Belongs to the Dead’, which crunches along with some truly tortured-sounding, striding guitar.
If you’re going to go all-out on retro stylings, you better have the songwriting to back it up. The image that Vulture go for is definitely all-in, and yes they’re definitely trying hard on that front, but the songs have the strength and the character to really persevere.
It’s remarkably lean and mean – with only the constant echoing delay on the vocals sometimes grating.
True to the name, ‘The Guillotine’ goes for the kill in every song.
This is one retro act that knows exactly what they’re doing, and they deliver heaviness and fire on every track here. A total must for leather and chains speed freaks – a quality excursion for everyone else.
4 / 5 – Lorcan Archer ::: 15/10/17