Album Review: Vaulting – Nucleus
Band: Vaulting (Germany)
Album: Nucleus (2011)
Genre: Deathcore / Grindcore
A couple of months ago we covered a song by a German band named Vaulting. I characterized the song as having ”plenty of fast-paced leads, hooks and sharp edges”. A few weeks later the band released its debut record Nucleus, containing thirteen brand new songs of pretty much the same general inclination. If it wasn’t for a bunch of them being rather different.
So Nucleus is a debut according to drummer Sebastian Gathof, so it’s kinda strange how Encyclopaedia Metallum lists 2008’s Epilog as a full-length too. Because taking a closer look at it, it seems more like an EP, with only 18 odd minutes of playing time. Yet there are eight songs which is more than you’d expect on a normal EP. The key is in the Grindcorian length of songs: one of them is only four seconds.
This Grindcore-like song duration is something the band stuck with. But Vaulting’s material is a bit of a hybrid of a hybrid. Primarily it’s Deathcore, the hybrid form between Death Metal and Grindcore / Hardcore. But then it’s got ambient piano parts right alongside of it. It’s kinda like combining sex with watching TV. It can work together if you play it right, but it isn’t the combination you would have picked as most logical. I’ll leave you to decide which, Deathcore or piano stuff, is the sex and which is the TV.
In theory Vaulting have a pretty good concept in hand then and in a way, at times, it does work. But the issue with this record is the total and utter lack of logic in pretty much all guitar leads and the result is as if you’re listening to chaos in a box. For example, you get this introductory track which is all calm and sweet and soothing, but does build up a certain tension. So far, so good. Then track 2, 80 Gy kicks off and for the remaining three songs it’s just as if you’re listening to just the one if you don’t pay full attention. It’s not until track 5, Permafrost, which is piano over bass, that you realize you’ve just listened to three songs of noise.
Now I’m not quite sure what the band’s own logic is with taking this approach. I believe there are two options: 1) they’re just improvising and it indeed doesn’t make all that much sense, or 2) Martin and Matthias are actually miraculously technical guitarists and they just like to play this way. I honestly can’t make out which it is, but I can imagine how playing like this could be fun if you’ve got full control over it. It’s just that for a listener it’s not really pleasant listening to. You can’t pull this apart and make sense of it anymore. And believe me, I’ve tried. For a whole bunch of hours.
I am being overly generalist here. There are of course a couple of tracks or moments in which things do make sense. I’m naming firstly the two piano songs that break the record into three parts and furthermore songs like Arktis Winter, They Always Return, Concrete & Nosebleed and Behind, a (mostly) slower and much more controlled song (until shit hits the fan just past the halfway marker) that is the album’s closer. As a general rule, the slower-paced songs / moments make a lot more sense.
Moreover, it’s clear from these songs that the band actually does know how to put together proper songs in which each member can show off his cunning abilities on his instrument. Sebastian’s drums are faster than fuck and feel full and rich, not raw and scrawny as is common in Grindcore. I am noticing a recurrence of certain patterns and fill styles here and there, but nothing you would notice as disturbing. And also Julien Heinrich, who’s responsible for bass, knows full well what he’s doing and he lays down value-adding fills throughout the record. Felix Kisseler’s vocals are a brutal mix of a deep bellow and a snarling bark. Kinda like the in between of Martin van Drunen (Pestilence, Asphyx, Hail of Bullets), Jukka Pelkonen (Omnium Gatherum) and something properly brutal.
And this to me is a pity. Because I know Vaulting could’ve put together something so much more intrinsic with their skills. So, what then do I make of this? Honestly, I don’t think I’ll be listening to this often again. It’s just too much, in any case for me, despite that I usually don’t terribly mind a bit of ostentation. But I do recognize a bit of skill on top of all the speed and I can imagine fans of the really freaky totally digging this. Eleven short blasts and two piano tracks to help get your blood pressure down in between. Chaos in a box. Metal for the advanced.
My Grade: 6.0/10
Buy this when:
- it can’t be crazy enough for you
- it can’t be fast enough for you
- it can’t be chaotic enough for you