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Vessel of Light - Last Ride Award winner

Vessel of Light
Last Ride
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 09 November 2020, 6:43 AM

VESSEL OF LIGHT’S overall sound is very much Doom oriented but they incorporate plenty of other elements as well, including hard rock, occult rock, grunge, stoner, sludge and even a bit of the 90’s aggro style.  Their sounds are heavy on groove and tend to be focused and very much riff based.  The band was formed in 2017 by riff master Dan Lorenzo from HADES, NON-FICTION, AND THE CURSED. Nathan Opposition, from ANCIENT VVISDOM, is the other founding member.

I’ve been following VESSEL OF LIGHT since their first EP, 2017’s self-titled opus, came across my “desk” for review.  They have put out an album every year since then and they only seem to get better with each passing release.   Flash forward to 2020 and we see the band dropping their fourth album, “Last Ride.”  So how is it?  Can a band who releases albums so quickly still be inspired?   Not only does Dan and Nathan continue to showcase their excellent song writing and composition skills but they also have created their best album yet. The most striking aspect of “Last Ride,” is the synergy between the four members.  Joining the duo is once again Jimmy Schulman on bass and Ron Lipnicki on drums.  The two joined on last year’s album, “Thy Serpent Rise,” but now they seem even more cemented into the band’s inner workings.

Ron compliments the music so well that I can’t imagine how they ever got along without him in the first place.  He seems to be the missing piece to an already well put together puzzle.  If Dan has a riff that descends down, Ron is there with a flurry of drums.  If a riff is reaching for the highest highs, Ron is there helping to push all the way. Any band this crushing needs the low end to hold it all together so enter Jimmy who matches Dan with the same intensity and fire these riffs are made for.  His style often reminds me of a drummer, where as he knows how to be flashy when needed but without going over the top. Much of the album’s weight can be contributed to his deep tone as well.

And what can be said of Dan and Nathan?  Well, a lot.  Despite already being masters of their crafts, they continue to improve themselves from album to album.  Nathan’s vocals are exactly what the music behind them needs and he sings his ass off—he really elevates his game here.   The macabre lyrics, much of which are thru the eyes of a serial killer it seems, sound even more creepy and imposing coming from his tongue. Dan is a beast on the guitar, casting out riffs like some sort of musical wizard.  He has yet to repeat himself, whatever well he draws from is still well stocked.  His tone is thick but not grating to the ears or too overpowering for the rest of the instruments.  His guitar licks and solos often times contained elements of blues but his composition skills allow him to interject whatever style he wants into this violent riff fest.

The album wastes no time with giving us the title track, “Last Ride,” right away. Those bluesy licks kick into a slow groove that is about as thick as a concrete wall.  Nathan sings along so effortlessly that it is obvious the two men have an amazing songwriting kinship. His higher pitched vocals used for the chorus are a nice counter balance to the riffs that are being dragged through muddy waters, dredging up nightmares that were better left alone. “Disappearing Pact,” recalls ALICE IN CHAINS but somehow even more dark, disturbing and just straight up direct in unquenchable heaviness.  The song’s main riff is both crushing, a tiny bit hazy, yet catchy as hell.  The song definitely pulled me in and settled me into the album’s pacing. The ending riffs, backed by the drums, are definitely a highlight of the album as well.

“Carving Station,” is where the albums really begins to turn menacing, with Nathan dropping a short but effective growl.  And how about those riffs?  They creep through the song, twisting and turning like a stalker closing in on a victim. I just love an album that is full of deep cuts and isn’t front loaded— “Last Ride,” is that album that just continues to get better.  Although there isn’t a bad song, the seventh track, “Awaken In Dreams,” is where the album really sinks its teeth in. This is such a great doom song: a simple but deep riff, solemn yet edged tipped vocals, and a slow to mid paced structure that brings out the best in the genre.

“In The Silence,” swallows the ears whole with the bass guitar at the forefront.  The rest of the band fades in for a dirty, swampy dirge of death and terror.  Nathan’s vocals are surprisingly melodic for such a disturbing song but the most dangerous elements of humanity often hide within the light.  Dan’s riffs are atmospheric, capture the mood of the song and running with it. The final track, “The Death Of Innocence,” is possibly my favorite on the album.  It is an ear worm, the chorus burying itself inside for days.  The rumbling of the drums shakes the song like an earthquake while the guitar and bass are a double punch to the body.  The music from 2:40 to 3:16 is what heavy metal is all about.

For such a young band, VESSEL OF LIGHT continue to produce both quantity and quality with their music.  “Last Ride,” is their magnum opus so far not only because of it being their best work but because it solidifies their sound and ushers them forward.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Last Ride
2. Disappearing Pact
3. Torture King
4. Carving Station
5. There's No Escape
6. Web of Death
7. Awaken In Dreams
8. Voices of the Dead
9. In The Silence
10. The Death of Innocence
Lineup:
Nathan Opposition - Vocals
Dan Lorenzo - Guitar
Jimmy Schulman - Bass
Ron Lipnicki - Drums
Record Label: Nomad Eel Records
     


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