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Album Review: VULTURE INDUSTRIES Ghosts From The Past

9.5 Reviewer

I first heard Vulture Industries a number of years ago. I was in Norway in 2013 and everyone was telling me that I absolutely had to see this rather enchanting avant-garde band that was playing in a relatively small bar in Oslo. At the behest of my trusted recommenders I wandered into the bar and was immediately taken by this band of barefoot Norwegians fronted by an absolutely enthralling frontman who looked part-Amish, part-circus ringleader. The vocalist was front up in the crowd as he mesmerized the audience with his piercing eyes and baritone voice. While it was the wee hours of the morning, the entire establishment was rocking and a venerable "who's who" of Norwegian black metal was in attendance as I saw a variety of members in attendance, including those from Taake and Helheim. Needless to say, I was hooked and I've been a loyal follower of the band ever since.

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Vulture Industries hails from the West coast of Bergen, Norway and Bergen, you may know, is home to many black metal bands including Enslaved, Gorgoroth, Immortal, Gaahl's Wyrd and the aforementioned Taake and Helheim. It's the heartbeat of the black metal scene in Scandinavia and the city where most of the classics have been recorded. In fact, Vulture Industries' lead vocalist, Bjornar Nilsen, has either produced, engineered or recorded a number of the black metal albums you may be familiar with including those by Blodhemn, Ov Hell, Slegest and Sulphur. Nilsen's band, however, is not a black metal band. Rather, Vulture Industries is an amalgam of many styles with progressive and avant-garde at the top. Some of labeled the band "the Nick Cave of metal" and that might not be all that far off. But it's extremely difficult to categorize Vulture Industries in terms of genre, so I just personally label them as "pretty damn good."

Ghosts from the Past follows-up 2017's Stranger Times which was a solid record released by Season of Mist. This new record is actually the band's fifth full-length and while they've been known widely in Norway for a number of years, they really haven't gained a great deal of momentum here in North America. This is rather unfortunate because the entire band's body of work has been both stellar and contemplative. Of course, a tour on this side of the Atlantic might help them gain some more recognition but with the constraining visa regulations here at the present time I fear I'll have to be content seeing these guys in Europe.

The record itself is nothing short of phenomenal both in terms of lyrics and music. Ghosts from the Past, written mostly during the COVID pandemic in Norway, is a dark record that reflects that dreary realities of lockdowns, powerlessness and a world continuously spinning more and more out of control. It's not an upbeat record, but coming from Bergen, where it literally precipitates 260 days out of the year, I wasn't expecting rainbows and sunshine.

Every single track on this record is a winner. The opener "New Lords of Light" makes a statement with a powerful vocal and foot stomping melody, the band grabs your attention right from the get-go. The track is a rocker that's expertly mixed and recorded with a sound that isn't afraid to be bold and up front. The video, by the way, created by Jarle Moe with some help from the 1962 film Carnival of Souls, is brilliant.

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While "New Lords of Light" is stellar opener, I might actually say that the second cut on the LP "Saturn Devouring His Young," might be an even better song with its quick pace and lush, harmonious chorus. It's a rocker that I'm sure will be a crowd pleaser when performed live. However, I might also say that the apex of the record could also be "Deeper" which, like a number of songs from the band, utilizes horns to add a bit more texture and complexity to the music. "Deeper" also features a powerful bass line and some really rich guitars that are recorded oh-so-well. Originally released as a stand-alone single a few years back, the lyrics invoke some challenging imagery about that state of our souls as we keep heading closer and closer to hell.

This astounding record of seven robustly-intriguing and addictive tracks wraps up with the melancholy "Tyrants Weep Alone." Though one of their slower compositions, it still doesn't let up with power and emotional force. It's a song that takes some time to develop and get going yet, at the same time, draws you in so deeply. The last four minutes of the nine minute track features some of the most compelling lyrics I've heard all year.

Vulture Industries is a band you've likely never heard of, but it's one of the most talented bands out there in the heavy rock genre. Ghosts from the Past is their very best release in their history and should make the world take notice.

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Vulture Industries are frikkin' weird. If you can't deal with their blackened rock madness then leave the hall!