One Thousand Days of Sodom: Vastum - Orificial Purge Review

In a post #MeToo world, the Bay Area's most psychologically disturbing band takes you into an emotionally and mentally scarring minefield of depravity, eroticism and rending of one's own soul in order to achieve pleasure and bliss.

Photograph by Chris Johnston

I don't think it's wild to assume that most things nowadays, whether present in the real world or in fiction, really disturb me on a daily basis. It really takes a lot to make my skin crawl. Cannibal Corpse album covers? C'mon. When I was in 9th grade playing Red Dead Redemption, I would tie people up and leave them on the train tracks just to reenact an Old West trope. It may be surprising to some that in 2019, violence is as common as apple pie and Coca-Cola. You can especially see it when younger children are being brought to R rated films with gratuitous violence in every frame and parents have literally no qualms about it. But what happens when the violence becomes more in line with the disturbed mind? What happens when it has a psychological or psychoanalytical bend to it? Gone is the slapstick humor of Deadpool capping a guy in the twig and berries. You are now presented with the elevator scene from Drive, the studio interview from the recent Joker, the home invasion from A Clockwork Orange or the finger scene from Raw. It's the utter mind bending that allows a band like VASTUM to exercise a massive stranglehold over the minds of their fans. VASTUM are a group that can devastate while they educate. While most other death metal bands are simply content with playing "Hulk smash" and being okay with subpar lyrics, VASTUM continually show their true colors as the Professor Hulk of death metal.

At this point in time, the band pretty much have the markings of a supergroup from a casual viewing. Formed in 2009 by original members in vocalist Dan Butler (Acephalix), guitarist/vocalist Leila Abdul-Rauf (Hammers of Misfortune and Cardinal Wyrm) and bassist Luca Indrio (Acephalix and Necrot), the group released the ridiculously heavy yet catchy Carnal Law in 2011 with guitarist Kyle House (also in Acephalix) and drummer R.D. Davies rounding out the lineup. Davies would soon leave and was replaced by Adam Perry for 2013 fan favorite Patricidal Lust. Soon after the release of the album, Kyle House left and was replaced by powerhouse guitarist Shelby Lermo of Ulthar and Extremity. The band would soon after release their third studio album and personal favorite Hole Below (A Dream of Ritual Abuse) once again through the 20 Buck Spin label.

While each album carries it's own distinct sound and vibe (Carnal Law being more primitive sounding, Patricidal Lust pushing into death doom territory, and Hole Below sounding like the long lost Bolt Thrower album from 1990), the band never forgot their vision amidst the constant lineup changes. Each album carried much of the same lyrical topics while keeping the listener invested with immense riffing, jaw dropping rhythm work and dual vocals from Butler and Abdul-Rauf that send chills down the spine. The band would remain in silence for a spell with only a split with Denver death doom gods Spectral Voice in 2018 to feed the ravenous masses demanding for a new helping of cranial torment. Indrio's Necrot bandmate Chad Gailey was enlisted to fill the drum throne during this period. Little did we know that we would only have to wait seventeen months for the newest and possibly best VASTUM album to date with Orificial Purge. What exactly have the band been keeping locked in the dungeon for so long and are we as a fanbase truly ready for this mental exorcism? It's time to brush up on your psychology and your knowledge of the modern cultural landscape because VASTUM are not here to wave a wand and ask you to frollic; they are strapping you in and forcing you to witness the horror, Ludivico style.

A lot of things have really rocked the cultural landscape in the four year gap between Hole Below and Orificial Purge. Some of those things include the widespread ideals of social justice, the election of quite possibly the most hated President in United States history, and finally, the event that really shun the spotlight on a problem that should have been dealt with decades ago: the #MeToo movement. For the better part of the late months of 2017 and early 2018, the entertainment industry, as well as other industries, began a modern crusade against those who had in the past engaged in malicious sexual harassment and at worst, physical sexual abuse. If you aren't fully aware of this movement at this point, there are more than enough resources for you to dig into. Why do I bring this up? From the very beginning, VASTUM have never shied away from the concepts of shame, despair and agony that perpetuate from the perversion of societal law through the complex lens of sexual deviancy and abuse, as well as the breaking down of those laws and ordinances by any means necessary. If you're lost at this point or you are starting to feel uneasy or uncomfortable, it's probably best you don't continue because the material is not only extremely veiled in metaphor and mystery, but it is also some of the most disgusting and horrific lyrical content you will EVER encounter. The lyrics to this new VASTUM offering Pissgrave's latest record seem like Dolly Parton in comparison. So again, here is your warning because it's time to really dig into the mind of madness.