Epic Heavy Metal from Italy
Manilla Ungol? Cirith Road? I have a difficult time choosing the best nickname for Italy’s Vultures Vengeance. Vultures Vengeance fall squarely into the epic heavy metal genre that Italians have been so graciously worshiping for decades. They’re a band who does not shy away from wearing their influences on their sleeve. The band channels legendary acts such as Omen, Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, and Italy’s own Dark Quarterer in ways that pay homage but at the same time are unique. I do not make these comparisons lightly as these bands have legacies that are nearly untouchable. Vultures Vengeance are one of the best young bands out there and their newest effort, Lyrids: Warning from the Reign of the Untold, reminds us of why that’s the case.
The band’s first major release, the Where the Time Dwelt In EP, came out just two years ago in 2016. I would argue that 2016 is the single best year for traditional heavy metal outside of the 80s. It was a year in which both old school heroes and modern champions were pumping out classics at a jaw-dropping rate. Despite the cutthroat competition, Where the Time Dwelt In managed to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with 2016’s best releases. Vultures Vengeance plan for a 2019 release of their debut full-length, but in the meantime they’ve decided to release Lyrids: Warning from the Reign of the Untold just last week. This EP contains the residual tracks from Where the Time Dwelt In with a different production and is intended to tide us over while the band finalizes their debut album.
When I heard that the new release would be leftovers from the first EP and that their album wouldn’t be until 2019, I got very worried. With just two tracks and under fifteen minutes of material, this EP was destined to be filler. Right? Wrong. It becomes immediately evident from the first passage of the opening track, “Empire of the Crimson Field”, that even leftover tracks for Vultures Vengeance are killer. It’s the same deal for the EP’s B side, the Plato inspired “Into the Cave”. It’s really hard to believe that these were just extra tracks they had lying around. It begs the question of why didn’t they just package it all into an album in the first place considering that Where the Time Dwelt In already clocked in at well over twenty minutes. If tracks of this caliber are not worthy of an album then we’re truly in store for a treat in 2019.
Epic heavy metal is a genre packed to the brim with talented vocalists, the sound and style of the genre simply demands it. Yet even in a sea of exceptional vocalists, Vultures Vengeance’s front man, Tony T. Steele, stands out as unique among his peers. It’s difficult to describe exactly what Tony sounds like but imagine if Tim Baker honed his midrange more and added a tiny bit of Italian flair. With a stage name like “Steele” the expectations are high and they’re certainly met in this case. As good as Tony’s vocals are, they don’t completely outshine the rest of the sound. The riffs, written by Tony Steele as well as new lead guitarist Tony L.A. (Is everyone named Tony in Italy?), are grand in structure and compelling in nature. There is no shortage of melodies here and L.A. makes certain that you sure as hell won’t forget them as he works with bassist Matt Savage to create impressionable guitar lines. At times it really sounds like a mix of King of the Dead-era Cirith Ungol and classic Manilla Road – I’m not even sure I can compliment a band more than that! The drums, performed by Kosathral Khel, are the perfect final piece of the puzzle as they work to tie together the band’s sound. This will be his final contribution to Vultures Vengeance and he will be missed!
The production on Lyrids: Warning from the Reign of the Untold while solid, doesn’t quite hit the same spot it did on the previous EP. On its own, it’s warm, welcoming, and overall done well even if the drums are a bit buried. However, 2016’s Where the Time Dwelt In has completely spoiled us and shown what Vultures Vengeance have the potential to sound like. The production on the previous EP is still warm, but it’s much more roomy and spacey. It added an additional layer to the sound that suits their brand of epic heavy metal so well. Aside from the production, the only thing that really bothers me about this EP is its length. While I understand the circumstances here, only two tracks and under fifteen minutes of content is simply not enough for me to walk away satisfied!
Listening to Vultures Vengeance puts a smile on my face every time without fail. The band’s sound and style is executed with such grace and talent that I can’t help but grow impatient for a proper full-length. Bands of this caliber are few and far in-between so be sure to keep a tab on these guys – a bright future ahead!
Album Rating: 91/100
Favorite Song: Empire Of The Crimson Field
Haphazard_Hal · September 23, 2018 at 3:11 am
These two tracks show glimpses of something epic, but the poor production is bringing it down. Everything feels muted and like it’s being recorded from a distance. Hopefully they find someone that can master and mix at a more professional level because it is really hurting their sound.
Marco · September 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm
Hey Hal, I agree with you here. I think the production on their 2016 EP was much, much stronger. Take a look at that one! I expect their debut to have something similar – felt like the band just wanted to release something in the meantime to keep us interested.