Friday, July 22, 2016

Mandatory Vinyl: Witchskull – The Vast Electric Dark


Set your alarms, get plenty of rest, and eat a well-balanced meal are all sound advice come Saturday July 23rd, 2016. It’s that time of the month. The cramps are building in anticipation. Will you become part of the Die-Hard family? Shall the OBI edition be added to your ever growing shelf of rare, pristine vinyl records? Do you have what it takes to overcome the pressure and hit the “buy now” button and feel that rush of excitement knowing you are one of the few, the proud, the STB Records Fan base? Sure you do, as STB is about to release the highly anticipated debut album by Canberra, Australia’s own Witchskull giving us the works in terms of vinyl options.

The wax output contains 4 variants plus limited test pressings that the label typically releases when they find a bad ass bands as they regularly do. In the case of The Vast Electric Dark, STB finds middle ground with a superb band possessing equal parts of the doomy side of the label, hard charging heavy blues rock brimming with a metallic edge lurking deep within. The band, made up of Marcus De Pasquale (Guitar/Vox-Looking Glass), Joel Green (Drums - Armoured Angel) & Tony McMahon (Bass) take the Australian stoner scene to new heights with a pummeling blend of doomy blues meets proto-tinged metal.

The title track kicks of Side A swallowing the listener with its dark lyrics belted out by the signature vocals exiting the throat with a doom-laden quiver sending its message by way of distortion, groove, and neck breaking rhythm. It’s hard not to be taken aback with the singer’s gnarled tone. The lead guitar hooks burn like cast iron in a pit of coals as the album chugs on smoldering with zest. Slow baked riffs circulate with a calculated precision and a catchy, yet underground groove. The 3-piece sounds like 4 or 5 members with the fullness of sound and, again, the vocals dominate and compliment the searing cadence within The Vast Electric Dark

The record of review today is the ‘Not So Standard’ edition. This one is limited to 165 units. Personally I love the colors and have opted for this edition many times in prior label releases despite not being the most limited variety. Not only is it the most affordable option, but it exhibits astonishing presence on the turntable and for the collector not looking to die-hard, this edition typically lasts a bit longer in the store and gives you a chance to get a copy of the album if you oversleep on release day.  Don’t count on it though this time around, as the fans are frothing over Witchskull and I predict another record sell-out on Saturday morning. Keep tuned into STB Webstore for more details on the release time as it’s crucial for the more limited editions.
At 4-songs per side the album is evenly split. The music flows graciously from A to B with its rapturously gritty pulse and intoxicating groove. The band sets themselves apart from the rest of the pack in terms of style and sound in the scene. The guitar tone is fierce yet soothing while the rhythm section slays and the vocal delivery rings with a relentless swagger.  Solos are strung throughout each and every song giving the album a very classic-rock quality adding a touch of blues base to the heavy metallic formula. The riffs are distorted with just the right amount of fuzz, not too stoned, yet dusty enough to survive the desert in a dust storm.  The speed is up-tempo yet the groove reels back the energy to give a bit of a doom vibe. Just as you think the tingling sensation is over, the solos slam you down as the vocals convulse like a mind on mushrooms and the hooks broadcast layers of defiling euphoria.

Take a walk through The Vast Electric Dark, plunge into the sure to be collector’s edition of your choice on wax, and join the STB club with their newest family edition Witchskull. Although I got a copy already, I may be fighting in line for a copy of the OBI series or even a die-hard. With the promo I also received the Die-Hard cover and was totally blown away. The die-hard gatefold cover alone is heavier than 3 standard records combined. It’s a super heavyweight card board gatefold with glossy finish and a embossed text to differentiate from the standard cover. Its hand numbered to 100 copies as well. It’s worth the price of admission for the cover alone, let alone all the other goodies that come with the Die-Hard. 

Just look at these records!!! You must participate.  Looking is not enough. Hell, Looking Glass, the other band of the lead singer, is not enough and they are total shedders in their own right. Listen/purchase the album digitally below for those times when you are on the go, and let’s see the internet flooded with pictures of freshly acquired wax treatment in the coming weeks. Witchskull are here to stay and STB Records have knocked it out of the park once again. Isn’t this fun? I hope you are having as much fun as me with all this cool shit. For those reading this after the sale has gone on, I can only hope that you got your copy, and if not don’t give up, and go for the other options like digital and/or CD. The important thing is, the music is as incredible as the vinyl editions. Good luck and expect some more vinyl reviews down the road. I’m thinking another periodic feature for ‘Mandatory Vinyl’. Let us know what you think and drop by the STB store to see what it’s all about.

-The Huntsman

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