Thursday, June 9

Vulvagun - Cold Moon Over Babylon


Vulvagun
Cold Moon Over Babylon
2011

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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



5 comments:

CanuckFan said...

I follow the band's label on FB and this album is getting huge promo. I must admit, I've been a bit put off by the name of the band, esp. as it's an all male band. It's just...ugh. I'm glad the music is at least listenable, so perhaps I'll endeavour to get over my feelings about their name and give them a try.

The Protagonist said...

Yes, I don't know where they got their name from, but it's pretty quality heavy metal. Definitely has a very solemn tone, but very good.

Piper-Lee said...

From their website:
"I actually came up with the name after a conversation I had with Johnny Beer (Renegade, Wizard Sleeve) about the band Wizard Sleeve being (jokingly) the Kings of Vulvic Metal. For some reason the word Vulvagun popped into my head and I though it was an unusual phrase. So I set about writing a song about how great it would be if women united as a massive army to take over the world and hopefully run it better that all these idiot men have done for thousands of years, and how the bloodshed would cease. Then I thought, “Great name for a band. It’ll show that we have a sensitive side (Ha!)”.
Then one day my mother-in-law asked me what I was going to call the group and the word came out of my mouth, aloud for the first time... and I was a bit shocked at myself - it sounded very strange to me. She didn’t blink or say a damned thing, so I thought I’d get away with it. I like the idea of it being a new word, there was nothing on Google or anywhere else that I could find. I occasionally still have some reservations about it - which convinces me that it’s the right name - if it makes me uncomfortable, then it’ll challenge me and then I guess I have to learn to live with it. Words are just words though, and any offence is simply subjective - as Steve Hughes says, nothing happens when you’re offended - you don't get leprosy or anything. People have different views of the name... and they can take from it whatever they wish. I don't care as long as they remember it."

My own feeling is, if you're strong enough to get past the name, then you're more likely to enjoy their music. A filter for the squeamish I guess. I don't mind the name at all. There are far worse out there. And as the guy says, it's just a word. Art is meant to challenge us, yes? As far as being offensive to women, I think the comments above say that it's meant to be taken the opposite way. As a female, I respect that angle.

Great review too, you made me interested and I really think this band is great. A bit like HellFighter - very mature and mystical!

I emailed the band and they sent a very nice email back.

The Protagonist said...

Ah, thank you very much, that's certainly enlightening! Not something that I would have done, but he's right- I will remember it!

Anonymous said...

Non male come sound metal, un po' power un po' hard rock, ma mi sono rimasti un po' troppo vaghi e il nome assurdo, secondo me, non aiuta poi molto. Credo che li riascolterò.
Di: inquietudinedikobal