5 out of 5
Produced by: Chris Common
I know I’m bias towards this exact breed of post-rock / post-hardcore, with a thick low-end and sung/shout vocals, especially when you have someone like Chris Common at the boards, giving the whole thing a layered and intensely immediate sound, but I swear it’s not an automatic pass: the appeal can fade after a song, or maybe Chris isn’t the best match for that particular band, or etcetera. In other words: you still have to have something unique in your bandly formula that makes the disc worth putting on repeat; worth hyping.
Vampyre have it all, and they hold it together, tightly, throughout every track on Other Growths. The driving guitar crunch and meaty rumble of bass and guitars carry things, with immediately grooving riffs identifying each track as a standalone, but the overall sound linking the album together, flowing from shouted heavy-hitters to more slow, grinding moments, and then blasts of punk rock energy and tempo. The group leans in to Chris’ production work, putting particular emphasis toward layers or reverb to bring the right elements forward or push them back as needed; this awareness of range is a massive differentiator, but it’s very much assisted by the way the songs are constructed, which give us the hooks when we want them, but also dart towards unexpected – but awesome – breakdowns to keep things fresh.
Lyrically, Brandon Booker’s themes of mistrust and questioning are, perhaps, one of the many “norms” of rock, but that’s fine: we’re all saying similar things, and it’s often about how you say them. I respect lyricists whose words have an internal focus, but with enough context and imagery to allow us to sift through them and think how they might apply to us. There are some fantastic lines here that do just that, along with specific visuals that sit well alongside a name like Vampyre, and then a Lovecraft reference, because why not.
The black metal draperies on things (the artwork; the font) don’t feel out of place, here – a lot of times “heavy” acts end up feeling like people just putting on Halloween masks, but there’s a definite weighty feel throughout the whole album, and an underlying darkness to the sounds and words that’s all integral to the package.
Post-hardcore perfection, as far as I’m concerned.