The latest album from the Hamilton, Ontario-based doomy sludge duo Vile Creature feels like a refreshingly direct confrontation with apathy, as the title suggests. Called Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!, the record kicks apathy to the side with an array of intensely dramatic and ultimately deeply moving elements. While gritty and direct, the album also feels big and grand, thanks to elements like strongly propulsive melody and the elevating guest-singing from vocalist Laurel Minnes and her choir Minuscule, whose contributions figure quite prominently in the closing two tracks, titled “Glory! Glory!” and “Apathy Took Helm!”
Bringing Out the Soul
The entirety of “Glory! Glory!” features soulful singing from the choir accompanied by similarly soulful, slow strums on an apparent guitar. “Our lives are short; time is tenuous,” the choir memorably sings, and the emotional weight of the performance lands like a gradually thickening, inescapable fog.
“I’ve always been a huge musical theater person — I’ve never been very shy about that. It’s always been something that’s run through my entire life, and writing a full-on choir piece is always something I’ve wanted to do,” Vile Creature’s multi-talented KW explains, also noting that Minnes co-wrote some of the album’s concluding music.
Minnes sang on Vile Creature’s 2016 EP called A Pessimistic Doomsayer, and KW shares: “She’s such a wonderful person and comes from completely outside the realms of metal and heavy music but has such a soulful, wonderful, naturally gifted voice — we always knew we’d work with her again, and when I was working on writing the piece, she was just the only person that I really considered working with. We had such a wonderful time composing it and figuring out the nuances of the harmonies and the melodies… Being able to utilize her and her whole band to be able to do that part and kind of have it run through those last two tracks and different parts of the record was so much fun.”
Vile Creature includes KW on guitar and Vic on the drums, with both members contributing vocals. The attachment that Vile Creature have to their own music spills over into the listening experience. The always shifting dynamics throughout their latest album readily capture listeners like a stormcloud of emotion, and it’s impressively powerful.
“We don’t have any delusions of grandeur about anything ever, but we just try to be authentically ourselves with everything that we do, and we definitely put a lot of ourselves into our music,” KW explains. “I feel like people in general gravitate towards things that they feel are real and not being forced upon them, and hopefully people digging the things that we do is a result of that.”
The Sounds of Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!
The music on Vile Creature’s latest album kicks away apathy in both an emotional sense and a musical sense. There’s a real, readily apparent richness in the sound that Vile Creature have crafted on the record. They’ve developed a core of crushing guitar and drum whirlwinds into an even more all-encompassing experience through elements like the singing from Minnes and her choir, and Vile Creature carried that ethos into the rest of the songcraft for their latest record.
“Whenever we’ve recorded, including this time, we always record with the two of us in a room, and we just play live, and the best take is the one that makes the record,” KW explains. “That’s what we’ve done since we started, and with this record, we wanted to try something a little bit different. We still did it live off the floor, but we didn’t want to focus so much on how it’s gonna be able to be interpreted live and just really make something that stood on its own as a studio piece. So with that, we were able to incorporate like a whole world of synths, and different parts, and the choir, and it just — it was so much fun and from there, after recording it and being able to hear it, we’ve been able to work on finding ways to play the songs live that are a bit different and really interesting and have the same kind of emotional weight to them.”
The band intertwine their music’s emotional weight with a strong sense of fiercely propulsive melody kicking along like a mighty roar amidst the music.
“Vic, who’s the drummer in the band, loves darkwave and synth-based music. I basically just listen to a few bands at this point in my life, and they’re both kind of like really rad rock bands with a really good sense of melody,” KW explains, discussing the melodic aspects of their own music. “So even though we’re like writing really bleak music, I feel like that’s always kind of been inherent in the stuff that we do.”
That kind of mindset will continue to inform the duo’s music going forward, KW shares, explaining: “For me, I’m a guitarist — I’ve had the same heads forever, I’ve had the same cabs forever. I mess around with pedals, but I just am trying to constantly find new ways to be emotive while still maintaining heaviness and finding ways to convey heaviness without being distortion on, 24/7 — not necessarily researching new ways to do that, but consistently trying to get better at my instrument and find ways to get it to emote the way I want it to feels like a right move.”
Vile Creature are unfortunately one of the many bands who have had to cancel touring plans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve had some great experiences on tour in the past, KW notes, like their repeated tours with the Iowa-based doom band Aseethe — made up of “like the three kindest dudes ever,” KW shares — and their time with the Boston-area band Elizabeth Colour Wheel, with whom Vile Creature had been scheduled to go on tour in 2020.
“I’ve never been blown away by a band opening a show like that, and seeing their growth now is amazing, and I was excited to be able to see them like eight nights in a row — it was just going to like make my life,” KW shares, noting their first encounter with the band a couple years back and their excitement about getting to tour with them anew. “They’re the most talented band playing music and I’ll fight anybody who disagrees.”
Although much of live music has wound down throughout the middle part of 2020, opportunities still await.
“I feel like in general, everyone’s safety and well-being takes a significantly high precedent over us being able to make a bunch of people sad for a 40-minute set, but yeah, we definitely look forward to some day being able to go out and play shows again,” KW shares. “2020 was supposed to be the year we did by far the most touring we’ve ever done. We’re not a full time band, in the means that we both have full-time jobs. I have two full-time jobs. We have a house. Our band is our fun, cathartic hobby that we really take super seriously and really love passionately doing, and this was kind of the year where our plans were to — it was by far the most we were going to ever tour, and the most places we’d ever gone. We were going to hit the West Coast for the first time — and it sucks that it all got cancelled, but we’re not going anywhere, and we’ll be able to do it all again in the future, you know?”
Photo thanks to Danika Zandboer
Dive into Vile Creature’s latest music below! Order the album, which officially releases on June 19 via Prosthetic Records, by clicking through or at this link.