Formed in 2015, Germany’s Vulture are self-proclaimed High Speed Metallers – after their first demo ‘Victim to the Blade’ (2016) and the following first full-length ‘The Guillotine’, fans are now up for a revolutionary yet logic succession of the so-far musical output of the five-piece outfit. The musicians plough up the German Speed Metal scene somewhere on the borderline of the underground, with all members playing in other bands, for example Blizzen, Quintessenz and Luzifer. The demo and first album convince with authentically rendered 80s sound, vocal acrobatics with gritty and high-pitched manoeuvres as well as catchy song-writing. Guitarist Stefan Genözider explains: “With “The Guillotine” we really restricted ourselves to reproducing our debut EP. We wanted it to sound the same, both in the actual music and sound-wise, but we knew that this wouldn’t work a third time. The overall goal for our second full-length was to get more variation in our songs, work out more melodic parts and allow ourselves to slow down a little here and there.”
The first single “Beyond the Blade” definitely made fans hungry for the new album – so let’s give the freshly released ‘Ghastly Waves & Battered Graves’ a spin!
The first number Fed to Sharks showcases a three-dimensional drum sound and guitars cold as steel and the fast-thrashing atmosphere already gives us the right idea of what surely hasn’t changed about Vulture’s philosophy. The full unsoftened force of this first song impresses with technically pristine instrumental execution, at times hair-raisingly high and at other times genuinely vicious vocals, and the right blend of riff variation, solos and an unshakeable drum foundation.
Similarly to the title of the first album, we are dealing with an instrument of execution in the second track The Garotte. According to the band, horror in the vein of John Carpenter and Dario Argento is a key influence of the record, reflected in these unconventional keys and “horror keys”. Following a creepy piano intro, we are galloping through bright melodic and substantial rhythmic guitars that perfectly encapsulate an 80s sound. We also get moments of tension-inducing speed reduction as well as longer instrumental passages with impressive solos that clearly set this one apart from the first track.
Next up is the first single B.T.B. (Beyond the Blade). This tune is born to be a live banger – even for listeners who don’t want to get used to the increased professionalism of sound and songwriting. While sounding not as raw, the thrashing power is still as real as ever, including well-produced bass sound and a true execution of what the band calls High Speed Metal.
The title track makes the number four on this record; Ghastly Waves and Battered Graves gives us a slight slow-down (without leaving the realm of speedy Thrash). This one is more of a singalong number – from a Metal point of view: The alteration between electrifying lead vocals and a supporting chorus of sonorous male voices creates a possibly audience-engaging interplay. It uses its 6:01 minutes for showing off Vulture’s songwriting versatility, also in regards to slightly mysterious solos and a repeated ability of the track to build up tension again by subverting expectations. Like all other preceding tracks, this one yet again ends without much pomp and ritardando.
Dewer’s Hollow showcases some nice syncopic moments, rock-solid bass work and a good balance of melody and filth on the guitars. The screams and yells are more substantial and dark here, too, which makes this track a bit of a breather in the grand scheme of things, whilst still constantly keeping the energy level electrified and ready to explode.
This excess energy gets unloaded in the following track Tyrantula – but not right away. There’s a slower than expected intro, which adds to the effect of anticipation. Mightily resounding vocals with varying pitch are reminiscent of Hansi Kürsch‘s early days, while the very straight-forward guitar rhythms are intermingled with solos that are incorporated into the timberwork of the song rather than appearing as ornaments. Overall, a convincing old-school homage.
Stainless Glare posed as the second YouTube single of the release. A rhythmically focused piano intro with quick motif build up creates a mysterious air before the usual instruments set in with a bit less speed but all the more heaviness. Overall, this tune appears to be a bit more repetitive and simple but it makes for a refreshing change.
The last track of the actual album, Murderous Militia, makes us return to the high-speed realms of the album opening and the bass also comes out of hiding again. The album is closed off roundly and on a similar note then, before the only somewhat prolonged song ending with an instrumental ritardando and vocal echoes.
At last, the last song is a reason to rejoice for Thin Lizzy fans. The cover of Killer on the Loose shows reverence to the original without imitating or completely masking it. “Finding a fitting cover isn’t easy but this track just clicks with Vulture,” enthuses Axetinctor. “You have the lyrical theme, the ripping riffs and most importantly it’s a great song by one of our favorite bands.”
Overall, the very professional and well-produced sound of the album and impressive instrumental technicality may not be entirely up to the taste of underground Thrash or Heavy Metal purists – without doubt, however, this album makes truly hungry for the scheduled prowl through Europe, together with Sweden’s RAM. These songs are clearly meant to be performed live in tightly packed small dark venues with condensated beer and sweat dripping from the ceiling – but the high-quality production is sure a listening bonus in itself.