Recorded during late 2017, “Sacrifice” is the band’s debut EP. Self-released on Saturday 21 July 2018.
Victus is a doom/sludge metal/stoner metal band with a healthy dose of southern blues and metalcore thrown in for good measure, hailing from Portsmouth on the south coast of England. They completed their lineup in early 2017 and reached the grand final of Bloodstock’s Metal to the Masses 2017. “Sacrifice” is their debut EP.
“Intro” (track 1) is a short (1′ 06″) instrumental doodle that sounds like something between early Black Sabbath and late Down. It is slow, plodding, melodic and heavy as. It also segues beautifully into…
“Singularity” (track 2) which opens with a southern rock-inspired, sorrowful guitar riff that builds towards Samuel Barron Bold’s vocals rasping into view around 0′ 40″. On my first listen, I was surprised by SBB’s vocals—they are more of a gruff-shouting, metalcore style than the traditional rich operatic vocal of many a doom band. He reels it back a bit later into the song but it always sits on that limit between singing and shouting.
Overall the song is decent enough: it opens strongly but for me fails to really go anywhere. It flutters around a fairly shallow-sounding riff while SBB hollers over the top of it, and about two minutes in it gives up the ghost. As a name, though, “Singularity” describes it pretty well.
“The swarming” (track 3) opens where the previous track ended, on pretty much the same note; it could easily have been called “Duality”. For the first minute the band repeats the same riff over and over again before SBB’s lightly growling vocals start over a pounding drumbeat. The song has a steady, andante pace to it and is built around a pleasing riff that the band keep returning to before it builds and dies out on a decaying final note.
A dramatic change of pace introduces “Falling down” (track 4), which begins with a delicately picked guitar melody, and supported by a sparse but solid bass. About 30 seconds in, though, SBB’s vocals shatter the gentleness with all the subtly of a rock being fired from a trebuchet into a greenhouse. The song is built around a couple of simple and sorrowful riffs that I found it hard to not nod my head along to.
“Hell” (track 5) offers up probably the most southern rock-infused riff on the EP while Samuel Barron Bold’s vocals are the perfect blend of melody and gruffness: think Down or Crowbar. There is a particularly enjoyable chugging middle-eight about two-thirds of the way through that offers a new texture to the song before a short, lamenting and dirty-sounding solo sees the song out. In my opinion this is the standout track of the EP.
Having gotten into their southern-infused groove, the EP concludes with “Within the woods” (track 6) which opens with another southern-style lick that slowly builds through a descending bass line and splashing cymbals. The vocal melody doesn’t stray too far from the guitar riff through the verses which lends the song a particular laid back melancholy. Around five minutes in the song breaks down into an experimental free-for-all of reverb and screaming before transforming into a faster-paced version of itself and galloping to its conclusion, throwing in a few beautifully placed bass notes that lifts the song and creates depth.
Let me start by saying that I like this EP. The playing is tight, the production and mix are solid, and while Samuel Barron Bold’s vocals stray a little too close to the flat out scream of metalcore (which regular readers will know I’m not particularly fond of) on the more southern-infused tracks he does strike the perfect balance. As the debut offering from an up and coming British band I applaud it.
I’d be interested to learn when the songs were written in comparison with one another and by whom because the songwriting in some of the songs does seem to be more mature than others.
My biggest niggle about this EP, however, is the song order. It opens well with “Intro” but to my ear lacks any kind of real punch until the second half of the disc, which is a real shame because I think the acoustic shape of an album or EP is really important and this collection of songs has a lot to offer.
Personally, I would begin with “Intro“, then launch straight into “Hell” which is an upbeat and driving rocker of a song; it’s also in my opinion the best track on the release and one that I think best showcases the band’s skills both in terms of songwriting and playing. I would put “Within the woods” next, which follows most closely the southern feel of “Hell” and builds to about the same tempo. Next I would bring things down to a walking pace with the atmospheric “Falling down“—we’re now into a stomping anthem of a track that has depth and soul. Then build things back up towards the close with “Singularity“, which has energy, and finally “The swarming” which seems to me to offer the prefect coda to the EP: it is ponderous, lamentful and gets decidedly heavy towards the end.
Track order aside, this is a promising release from yet another great British band. Long after the EP had finished playing, I still had their songs going around my head. That’s got to be a good sign, right?
Review score: 75%
I received a copy of this EP from Victus, who contacted me directly. I have no personal connection with the band, apart from their tunes which are now carved into my soul for eternity.