Despite only lasting for fifteen minutes, the self-titled EP from Vessel of Iniquity feels as if it packs a lifetime of pain and suffering in to its duration. The latest offering from the reclusive A. White is a roiling, monstrous mix of black, death, and noise, delivering an onslaught that truly does justice to the term “extreme”. Finding the threads that connect acts such as Teitanblood, Gnaw Their Tongues, and Impetuous Ritual, Vessel of Iniquity is a difficult listen, but one that offers many rewards for those who can brave its depths.
Though it is broken down in to three tracks, Vessel of Iniquity is best considered as a singular whole. It’s certainly best experienced this way, throwing yourself in to its riotous seas and hoping to merge unscathed, if not unchanged by the ordeal. Over the course of the EP, nightmarish soundscapes are crafted from whirlwind guitars and echoing vocals, filtered through the kind of atmosphere that makes it feel not so much like music as it does noise. For sure, there are riffs and movements that can be discerned here, with drum patterns providing some sort of structure; but there is nothing that can be easily grasped, no obvious melodies to hold on to or vocal lines to follow. Instead, the impression is of the music as some sort of black hole, sucking all light in to its void, leaving only desolation in its wake.
Initial listens might see you being overwhelmed with the sound that Vessel of Iniquity throws at its listener, seemingly without any remorse or consideration for anyone save the creator. Yet persist with it, and more details textures become apparent. The songs may be filtered through the kind of obliterating atmosphere that makes comparisons to noise acts valid, but these are still, at their heart, metal songs. There are riffs buried here, and differences in texture and emphasis that see the songs move and shift over their duration.
This is most obvious on closer ‘Choronzon’, which eases back slightly on the more overtly noise elements and speed, and pushes chanted, repeated vocals to the fore, lending the track a religious feel, as if it were an ancient hymn to mystical beings that has only recently been put to tape. It closes the EP out in haunting style, yet is also, almost paradoxically, the most accessible track on Vessel of Iniquity – though such a statement is, of course, based upon comparisons to what has come before, and on almost any other album it would stand out as a strange, disconcerting track. But here, it takes the chaos and violence of the preceding two songs, and crafts it in to something that is easier to grasp hold of, manifesting in malicious and malignant, rather than marauding, fashion.
As all this should make clear, Vessel of Iniquity is a challenging listen. Though it is only fifteen minutes long, such are its depths and the challenge that it poses, that it is the kind of record that is easy to lose hours to in a single stretch. It is music for those who seek to be challenged by what they hear, who do not wish for all the best elements of a record to be the most obvious ones, and who recognise that there is more to extreme music than simple speed and volume.
Vessel of Iniquity is available digitally via Bandcamp; and on cassette and vinyl from Sentient Ruin and Xenoglossy Productions. A vinyl release is due for later in the year, and can be pre-ordered on the Sentient Ruin webstore and Bandcamp, and the Xenoglossy Bandcamp. A mini-CD version is also available exclusively from Xenoglossy Productions.