Album Review: Vomitory – All Heads Are Gonna Roll

Album Review: Vomitory - All Heads Are Gonna Roll
Reviewed by Sam Jones

Vomitory are a celebrated name within the annals of death metal yet, they’re one I’ve never checked out formally for myself. Formed way back in 1989 from Värmland, Sweden, it would not be wrong to say the band had plenty of competition in their early days, sharing their spotlight amongst Dismember, Grave, Unleashed and an utter plethora of extreme metal acts burgeoning at the time. Releasing their debut studio work later than their contemporaries, 1996 saw Raped In Their Own Blood released and can immediately pinpoint Vomitory as a band who weren’t trifling over their preferred subject matter. Subsequent album releases only continued the band’s fervour for annihilation, however things soon went south and the band ultimately broke up in 2013 amidst fan outcries. A brief reunion in 2017 came to no avail, but a year later fans would rejoice to the band’s rebirth and now, five years on and over a decade following their last record, All Heads Are Gonna Roll is set for a late May release. It’ll be interesting to see what the band are made of here, not only for this comeback album but as per what Vomitory are made of in general. This was my first real listen of the band.

You have to give it to Vomitory; the band haven’t released a studio album in twelve years yet, when this record begins, it’s as if no time whatsoever has passed between then and now. I particularly appreciated how the band don’t maintain blockers or anything restricting on their sonic performance; Vomitory give their guitar work the full scope and breadth needed to make as vast an impact as they may feasibly pull off. You feel the bloodlust emanating from their soundscape as chords resonate one into the other which only gets carried into the rest of the album’s running. The band may exhibit quality songwriting and demonstrate why their name is one truly synonymous with Swedish Death Metal, but they still guarantee audiences that they’re in for a hell of a ride as we’re seemingly swept along this tidal wave of energy. It’s all the more interesting considering we can acknowledge Vomitory aren’t downtuning their guitars wildly; their tone is pretty standard for death metal yet, it’s precisely this tone, coupled with the lack of chains gripping the riffs, that crafts this onslaught.

As a result, this approach to death metal, utilising an unrestricted guitar attack that chooses not to limit the reach of riffs’ resonance, establishes a different kind of flow that could see many fall in love with Vomitory, where they may not have beforehand. As you continue through this record, you’ll find Vomitory’s sound is extremely clean. The production on the whole is gritty and dirty and harnesses all the malice you’d want to discover from such a record, but what’s wholly absent is death metal’s innate sense of clenched fervour. Often, when experiencing death metal, it can feel very segmented and blocky whereby all the various sequences have their beginnings and endings clearly marked out for us to recognise. In this instance, Vomitory have completed negated that sensibility. Discovering these tracks gives us an oddly laid-back feeling that makes this a a surprisingly easy listen; there’s no effort needed to get the most out of our time here as the band make it effortless for us. Instead of a clenched fist pummelling us in the senses at all times, the band instead release all that tension, palm out and opened, and invite us into the embrace of their destruction.

Album Review: Vomitory - All Heads Are Gonna Roll

The drumming is, however, extremely clear. There’s nothing getting in the way of the drums coming fright from their place in the mix to our ears. Tom-Tom strikes feel as clean and refined as they can ever be in the recording studio. As a result, these drums easily set the pace by which the rest of the band perform at and, invite us to accept the intensity their instrumentation comes at us with. With this mix in mind, blast beats possess great swathes of power as their unending might is brought forth with no such obstacles in place to irk their delivery from them to us. It’s also nice to hear cymbals this crisp and acoustically refined in the mix as well; the band evidently were not striving for a muddied production and it’s through the drums where, instrumentally at least, this notion is definitely the most prominent. But, since the album has this rather easygoing atmosphere where you don’t need special attention needed to get the most out of what you’re receiving, the bass drums are rendered with this massive gravitas that seems to place itself firmly at the back of the record. What this does is lay the foundations of the band’s assault solidly but maintain our attention fixed on the band as a collective piece. The bass drumming certainly leaves its impact but Vomitory ensured it wouldn’t be the sole impact we’d feel throughout the record.

But the biggest draw for me towards this album as I only furthered my way down it’s nefarious paths, was how straightforward it is. An increasing number of modern death metal bands try and implement diverse pacing and songwriting into their albums which, in of itself, is far from a negative aspect. However, there’s something warming to be had when Vomitory come out with a record that does nothing except precisely what you tuned into it for; there are no hidden ballads or anything overtly technical or anything resembling “mature” songwriting efforts. From start to finish it’s Vomitory straight up and down without nary a hint of anything out of the ordinary for what the band traditionally churn out. In this perspective, Vomitory truly are Sweden’s Cannibal Corpse; crafting death metal fans know full well what to expect and still we come back again and again for that undiluted, honest and ruthless barrage Vomitory have been near mythologised to delivering on amidst the Scandinavian circles. It’s a sheer 40 minute detonation going off in your face point blank time and again and again as the band remind you why you arrived here in the first place, invigorating you as much at the end as you were towards the beginning.

In conclusion, All Heads Are Gonna Roll actually lives up to its namesake. Vomitory return with their first record in over a decade and absolutely school audiences on what makes a quality extreme metal piece. No mincing with words, no messing around, nothing to potentially bar the way between our enjoyment of the record and the band’s performance, Vomitory demonstrate why their name carries such weight in the modern age of death metal. It’s a refreshingly easy listen as the band remove any such limiting factors that can reduce our ability to experience this work. The walls pushed far back, the doors blown wide open, this is a record that enables us to breathe with copious amounts of room to move around in as the band destroy everything they come into contact with. It’s been twelve years since their last record; I can already hear audiences craving another just twelve seconds after finishing this one.

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