By Matt Hinch
Vilipend has always been one of those bands that has teetered on the edge of my consciousness. I’ve been aware of their existence, yet innocent to the experience. Inamorata, their debut full-length (A389 Recordings) has brought substance to the shadow. They are no longer just a name on a poster for a show I didn’t get to see. Now the sensory output of the collective entity that is Vilipend has been realized by my dwindling neurons. First contact was made via the shotgun blast that opens “To Impede The Healing Process”. Snapped to attention by the track’s opening vocal declaration, focus is firmly fixed as Vilipend tears through the speakers with seemingly reckless abandon. The track continues in a barrage of razor sharp riffs sliced with concussive dissonance. This lays the groundwork for the rest of Inamorata‘s forty-seven minutes of bitterness.
Impressive enough on the first go round, repeated spins reveal impressive depth. Peeling back the layers on tracks such as “Self Low Thing” and stunning closer “Meant To Be” one finds more and more gold within the gravel. Subtleties float to the surface of guitarist Derek Del Vecchio‘s vast range of styles. At times jangly, others crushing, his intricate melodies, soaring solos and hair-raising blasts keep the listener intimately engaged. His partner in off-kilter crime Mike Crossley‘s seemingly bottomless tone fortifies his already jaw-dropping basslines (“Farewell, Cruel Girl ” and “Thin Line Between Salvation and Damnation”). His 4-string weaves sinuous threads when not dropping hammer blows of low end crunch. Skinsman Adam McGillivray exudes brute strength as he pounds with relentless fervor. However, as referenced throughout Inamorata, he too can flip the script on bone-crushing heaviness and display a delicate touch when necessary. Chris Gramlich‘s definitively hardcore vocals snarl with disgust. As if the mere thought of giving credence to the target of his ire is reprehensible. His acid tongued vehemence fueled by love lost and love tossed aside. The venom born of heartache which seeps from his pores stains the proceedings only to be washed away in seeking to move forward. Exquisitely timed gang vocals emphasize a team based feel given off by the band in how they build off each others strengths. A glaring example of the whole being greater than than the sum of its parts.
Disparate elements of pain and aggression are stitched together to create a patchwork of warmth and beauty. Yet the pins remain in place, sharp reminders of life’s cruel realities. The schizophrenic nature of the album is betrayed by its cohesiveness. The transitions from melodious semi-acoustics to punch-a-lamb-in-the-face beatdowns is jarring. Yet, after a scant few listens, those bi-polar moments become anticipated, wait-for-it events. That held breath before unleashing the adrenaline-fueled fury. The crisp production separates the members’ contributions such that the listener is able to discern the individuals. Almost as if each track is suspended in space, only vacuum between. Contrary to how this may sound, like gravity, an unseen force locks everything together. This gives the album a distinctly live feel. As bright as Vilipend shines on record, I suspect the live arena is where the band really goes supernova.
Inamorata is a disorienting malaise of melody, noise, brutality and aggression conducted seamlessly from opening flash to its dying embers. As the final notes fade out we are left to wonder if the blinding passion with which Vilipend’s sonic package is delivered suggests the inamorata is the music itself. Inamorata is an emotionally taxing journey leaving you breathlessly heartbroken and physically exhausted yet hungry for more. If you’re a fan of aggressive, heartfelt and challenging metal, to let Inamorata pass you by would be simply opprobrious.