July 16, 2017

Vesicant - Shadows of Cleansing Iron Review and Track Stream.

Vesicant - Shadows of Cleansing Iron.

Review by Trevor Proctor.

New Zealand is one of those countries that continually makes a high standard contribution of music to the underground, this contribution can’t be questioned when we consider some of the bands originating from NZ, with Diocletian, Prisoner of War, Sabbatic Goat and Heresiarch being just a few examples. Just last week Heresiarch released their stunning debut album, ‘Death Ordinance,’ which was reviewed here and given a well-deserved 10/10. This week it’s the turn of another New Zealand underground band, Vesicant, to release their debut album. 

Vesicant formed around the beginning of 2014 when guitarist and vocalist Profanum moved to Wellington and started writing material with drummer Carnifex who later became the vocalist with Heresiarch.
In June 2014 Vesicant released the crushing ‘Edict MMXIV’ Demo which also featured Daniel Hames on bass and vocals; the artwork for ‘Edict MMXIV’ was created by Profanum with Carnifex designing the layout and also looking after mixing, mastering and engineering for the two track release.  ‘Edict MMXIV’ was released on cassette by Black Chaos Productions who had to re-press it due to exceptional demand – the demo was also released independently on digital formats by Vesicant on their Bandcamp page where it’s still available.
Despite the promise of future greatness shown by this debut release the band brought us no further music since 2014. However, the long wait is now over as Vesicant has just released their debut album, ‘Shadows of Cleansing Iron’ via Iron Bonehead Productions on CD, LP and digital formats.
Vesicant’s line-up now features Mordance from Temple Nightside on drums and vocals with Profanum writing all music as well as performing back up vocals, guitar and bass. ‘Shadows of Cleansing Iron’ was engineered By K. Crilley / J. Rademaker, mixed and mastered by K. Crilley and the layout was designed by M Keepin.

Vesicant’s powerful Black/Death Metal focuses on concepts about WWI as summarised by the press release: “Vesicant's core concept became the abject horrors and untold abysmal affliction for those men who fought in WWI - more specifically, "Vesicant" or gas attacks used as a method of psychological deterrence with intent to do physical bodily harm en masse. Vesicant's purpose isn't to glorify war, but merely an attempt to channel the intense feelings of those who lived or died during that hellish era…. Vesicant's music is largely inspired by novels of the Great War, such as Ernst Jünger's Storm of Steel - in particular, the author's point of view that the war provided each man a stark purpose and direct path of ascension towards personal heroism and immortality. Other concepts buttress the overall carnage and harrowing annihilation of the Great War, such as nature's reverence for the sacrifice, yet its soil drinks up the blood of these men ambivalently.”

‘Blood Miller’ starts the album and from the very first note you’re aware you’re in for a hellish and extremely heavy trip to the worn torn battlefields. The tracks starts at a fairly slow pace, filled with foreboding and dread, momentarily giving you a chance to prepare for the forthcoming slaughter as a mere minute in the pace intensifies revealing the brutal glory of Vesicant’s music which is insanely heavy from the off. 
Vesicant use a “coil and release” dynamic, both during this opener and for most of the album with a stop/start pace and varied tempo that add to the overall heaviness by creating a “constantly churning momentum,” laced with slower sections which Vesicant use to intensify the atmosphere with feelings of intense pain and sorrow. 

As well as being one of the longest, 'Enceladus' is by far the slowest and most harrowing track from the album, starting at a fairly intense pace before dropping right down after two minutes, plunging you into a very slow, yet mercilessly heavy section that reeks of sheer despair as the pace almost grinds to a halt before Vesicant let rip to close the track with a final, frenzied attack. 
This is where part of the beauty of Vesicant’s music lies as they keep things extremely varied throughout the album, making it nigh on impossible to second guess where each track will bring you. Whilst performances from both musicians during ‘Shadows of Cleansing Iron’ are superb it would be criminal not to mention the drumming from Mordance who maintains the tempo throughout at an almost in-human pace. 
‘Excoriation’ is the final track from ‘Shadows of Cleansing Iron’ and is a very strong way to conclude this exceptionally strong album. Excoriation, which means skin being torn off or injured, begins with war sound effects and the strangled final gasps of choking soldiers before treating us to some seriously heavy, fast and intense music that could rip more than your skin your skin off; several riffs from this track bleed nothing but pure headbanging bliss and destruction. 
Across the duration of this album you’re confronted with wave after wave of extreme heaviness that perfectly complement the slower sections and this track is no exception, summed up perfectly by the press release that stated, “For now, 'Shadows of Cleansing Iron' is an aural assault of the most harrowing violent proportions. Darkness and despair mixed with confusion provides the basis while moments of heroism provide the smallest glimmering hope of survival.”

‘Blood Miller’ is available to stream below and will confirm the necessity of owning this very important album.

Another easy 10/10 and hopefully the start of great things to come for this fantastic New Zealand band.

CD Details - 4 Panel Digipak CD with 8 page booklet on 170g matt paper.
LP Details - 350gsm Jacket with matt varnish and inside flooded in black, 140g black and red vinyl, 250gsm cardboard insert with an A2 poster on 150gsm art paper.

01 - Blood Miller
02 - Shadow of Death
03 - Dismal Oubilette
04 - Uncoiled Desolator
05 - Enceladus
06 - Carnage Ascended
07 - Excoriation.

'Shadows of Cleansing Iron' is currently available here on LP and CD from Iron Bonehead Productions, it is also available here on digital formats.
Vesicant's 'Edict XXIV' demo is available here on digital formats.

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