“Deep the Sky”

By Dr Abner Mality

The first self-titled Vhol record blew my mind in a way few albums are capable of. Psychedelic progressive thrash metal with all chains off and needles in the red! Could this band that contains members of YOB, Hammers of Misfortune and Agalloch keep the momentum up with the all-important second record?

They make a pretty credible stab at it. Honesty compels me to say I prefer the debut but “Deep the Sky” continues the unique Vhol style and maybe tweaks it even more. This incredibly advanced and quirky music puts one’s descriptive abilities to the test. It’s very fast….blindingly so and thrash pretty much all the way through…but it’s incredibly dense, progressive and HUGE sounding. First cut “The Desolate Damned” is a jaw dropping exercise in ridiculous shredding guitar overkill…John Cobbett destroys with the cyclone of arpeggios he conjures up here. Add the rich multi-tracked melodic vocals of YOB’s Mike Sheidt and it makes Vhol sound like a thrashed up version of early Queen. The vocals throughout the album are so diverse as to be mind-bending….70’s influenced AOR melodies mixed with dirty growls and almost bluesy yowls. On “3 AM”, the song starts with raw, gruff thrash with vocals to match but eventually turns into another majestic explosion of Queen-style vocals and regal guitars. Unreal!

Where the album falters is the 12 minute plus title track. This one lost me by the end, they just could not sustain my interest across the whole piece and the slow interlude in the middle kills the momentum. They recover with the odd and hypnotic instrumental “Paino”, which features nimble-fingered piano work attached to a speed metal framework. Demented genius, that is. “Red Chaos” is the vicious slab of progressive thrash its name indicates, with matching vocals, while “Lightless Sun” and “The Tomb” conclude things with more of Vhol’s patented but untouchable melodic speed metal.

“Deep the Sky” is a very fitting follow-up to the first Vhol record, but not quite as ground-breaking or as seismically different. This is thrash of the most forward thinking variety.