Cold Moon Over Babylon
At first when I saw the name Vulvagun pop up on my promo list, I skipped it with a look of disgust (really, with a name like that, what was I to think?). Later however, I happened to see them labeled as power metal- prompting another look and a sample listen, which impressed me suitably. I'm glad to say now that I made an error, and that no one should be thrown off by the strange name of the band (though I would like to know why the band chose it for themselves).
Vulvagun is a young and rather ambitious young metal outfit from Melbourne, Australia. Though labeled as power metal, I would hesitate to describe their music as just that. Mixing elements of USPM with a dash of prog and a slab of thrash, Vulvagun produces a heavy and darkly shaded album of twisting harmonies and thundering riffs. "Cold Moon Over Babylon" sure took its sweet time growing on me, but now that it has, I find myself coming back to it many evenings when I have time for dedicated listening. I say this because if there's one thing that I've learned about Vulvagun, it's that they have composed a very thick and chewy sort of album.
Vocalist Wayne Dwyer's commanding shout combined with the chunky riffing creates a dramatic atmosphere that lends itself very well to the lyrical theme of the album. I call this album ambitious because the band undertakes a very dark and solemn theme on their first outing: The Lesser Key Of Solomon, a mythical text on demonology. Never mind undertake, these guys succeed in being taken seriously with mythological subjects in the way that groups like Virgin Steele do (and perhaps more). Sometimes dark, sometimes mysterious, and rarely dull, the material here is rare. Really, I think that the only thing lacking for this band is pulling everything together and providing listeners with a little more melody. On the other hand, songs like "Malachi" and the title track deliver quite satisfyingly, and indicate just what the band is capable of.
However, I don't think that this diminishes the appeal of "Cold Moon Over Babylon" much at all. While not a very accessible album, it is well worth the reward of repeated listens. The most surprising thing about this work is its maturity level, as it sounds like a band that has dropped half a dozen releases and is moving on to something more grand. I don't know how much more I can say about this record, but it's well worth a try. Vulvagun isn't playing with the kids here, this is a well-developed piece of work with great depth.
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The Protagonist's Rating: 3.75 out of 5