VAULTWRAITH     “Decomposing Spells”

By Dr. Abner Mality

If Hammer horror movies and the Vincent Price Poe films ever had a metal music mascot, it would be VAULTWRAITH. The style they play on “Decomposing Spells” has a certain Gothic elegance to it that reminds me of those classic horrors. It’s a bit surprising because VAULTWRAITH is one of the last survivors of the “Razorback Records” style of horror metal, which relied on gnarly thrash and rotten grindcore to deliver its chills.

VAULTWRAITH is different right from first song “Wax Cylinder Apparition”, which is more ambitious and composed than I was expecting. The band’s style is still appealing to extreme metal fans but it’s rooted in traditional metal and 80’s US power metal more than SLAYERish thrash. The vocals are exceptionally harsh, so crispy and crackly they sound like the guy’s larynx is torn apart, and remain that way throughout.  There’s also a simple straightforward catchiness to much of the riffing, with the title track and “Hearse Hauntress” being good examples of songs that succeed due to simplicity. To contrast with these, we have a real epic in “Church Burned”, with haunted organ accompaniment and a grand structure. There’s lots of melodic, almost depressive lead guitar throughout the album.

The record entertains in its totality, which is rare enough these days and the baroque Hammer horror vibes are omnipresent, only letting up on the final track “Of Skeletons and Metal”, which is the most straightforward headbanger. Capturing the atmosphere of that long-lost style of horror in a heavy metal form is something I love and VAULTWRAITH accomplish it here.