South African brutal death metal heavyweights Vulvodynia have once again shattered the expectations of the masses with their June release, ‘Mob Justice’. Where their previous instalment ‘Psychosadistic Design’ left off, Mob Justice picks it up again, bringing home a new level of complex and gory tracks that combine their unique style of brutality with a welcome breath of air, such as with the instrumental track, Echoes of the Motherland. A temporary but necessary solace from the otherwise tumultuous barrage of heavy metal glory.
With a new chapter of colossal riffs and growls to shake you to your core, Vulvodynia have certainly been making waves across the world with their latest release. Having received multiple, highly positive reviews and subsequent tour slots at some of the metal world’s biggest festivals, Vulvodynia are set to continue their pathway of ravenous, grinding mastery to Australia in November.
Having spoken at length about working with the various people who made the album possible, guitarist Kris Xenopoulos touched on their Lacerated Enemy Records correspondence, which was with none other than Zdeněk Šimeček (Psycroptic, Godless Truth). “He has been so amazing to us. He’s really been a huge part of everything that’s happened to us in the last three years since we started touring internationally. He was the first person we met at the airport at our first European tour. He’s really the guy that kind of started everything for us in that regard. He booked that whole tour, and it was in our contract that he was going to bring us to Europe, and he just did it! He’s become just such a great friend and he feels like a part of the band at this point… When we were touring, he would come on stage with us every night and do vocals on our song Psychosadistic Design.”
In addition to working closely with Zdeněk, Vulvodynia’s newest release was mastered by Yannick St-Amand (Despised Icon), which led to yet another interesting discovery of how the band’s working relationship was fostered. “So how that happened was, we got offered a tour by Avocado Booking. They just hit us up because Luke, our other guitarist said to, I think it was Alex Erian from Despised Icon in a comment, saying, ‘Hey, we should tour together!’ as like the kind of cheeky joke. This was because they shared one of our videos or something, and then they reached out to Avocado Booking and said, ‘Hey, could you book these guys for our tour?’ And basically, we got on tour with Despised Icon and that was like, our first really big tour. Which is amazing, as that was literally all from a cheeky Facebook comment!”
‘Mob Justice’ has shown a development in Vulvodynia’s writing style, incorporating a variety of influences to produce a progressive and melodic tonality to brutal death metal. “There’s a lot of different things that inspire my writing and sometimes I get too inspired by too many things. I end up writing way too many songs for the album. Sometimes my ideas just drift off and I do things that just like which may not be the thing we’re going for. We had a specific plan and sound in mind, and it took me a while before really finding the sound that we wanted to go for. Luke was the original guy whose started Vulvodynia with Duncan, and he’s got like a very slammy, chuggy-based writing style and he’s a super good songwriter and he’s been doing that thing from the beginning. Then when I joined the band, being into a whole lot of progressive music and instrumental guitar virtuosos and all of that type of thing, and I guess that influence is kind of what shows on the new album.”
Having a theme was a clear desire for Vulvodynia. With their prior release being set in the mind of a serial killer, a horror movie style collection of tormented minds fulfilling dark desires, ‘Mob Justice’ focused on the real-world trials and tribulations the band had seen first-hand, living in South Africa.
“We wanted to write about something that was very true to us. South Africa has a lot of crime and because of all the poverty that’s around, it’s just desperate people everywhere. We’ve all been through crazy things, like crazier than you could ever imagine. But we wrote about everything that happens here in South Africa that people don’t like talking about and don’t like showing the rest of the world, because it makes our country look bad. But it’s the truth. It’s like we lived in a really f**ked up country where f**ked up things happen all the time. People don’t like talking about it because when you do, it’s really scary and people like to be in denial about these things, but it’s very real. And what we wrote about on this album is something that’s very like close to our hearts. We wanted to cut a different type of emotion this time, because the last albums have been about just being the most brutal band ever, or aliens, or like politics in general, and religion. But that’s all general stuff. We wanted to get into something that was really unique to where we come from and what we do and kind of maybe why we make this type of music.”
Nyaope is an excellent example of the music that ‘Mob Justice’ contains. A street drug in South African communities, the song gets to the heart of what the band tries to showcase with this release – the grimy, dark and horror of their hometown that is otherwise obscured from the public eye. “It’s based on a drug called nyaope or whoonga, which is basically AIDS medicine, so antiretrovirals and heroin, rat poison sometimes, and weed, and it’s just like the worst thing ever for you. Where I grew up in Devon in South Africa, there’s even this place called ‘Whoonga Park’ because it’s like infamous for people going there doing whoonga. It’s a very big drug for some reason in South Africa, and it makes people crazy, like f**king zombies.”
The album has also adopted a new artistic direction for the cover art, created by Jakub N. Rusek, that symbolises many aspects of the band’s vision for this album. “This was the first time we’ve worked with him for our album cover and I think it’s the most amazing one so far. There’s so much detail and it’s so beautiful and it’s exactly what you need to look up while listening to the album. It’s perfect – we couldn’t have asked for something better. We kind of knew what we wanted, and we described it in as much detail as we wanted – vultures eating a carcass of a dead lion, wearing a crown and all of that. And that was for the song Reclaiming the Crown part one and two. So that kind of imagery plays around. And I think just the scavenger aspect was important, because scavenging really hits home for South Africans because of all the poverty here – it’s related to a lot of political things that are happening. I think the best thing people can do with our album and the symbolism is kind of find meaning for themselves because a lot of the time people will listen to songs, read lyrics and find a different meaning to it then we could have even imagined. But for them that can help them through stuff or related to them in a whole different way. And if we give a complete definition of what the song should be about and it’s not what it meant to them, I feel like that’s not cool to do a lot of the time. So, in a lot of ways, I think people should just kind of perceive our album the way they want to and in a way that resonates with them if it’s doing that.”
Vulvodynia is touring Australia and New Zealand for the first time in November with To the Grave, Zeolite and Wraith. Tickets are on sale here.