Us long time metal fans spend a lot of our waking hours discussing the wonderful stuff. Such talks typically reveal positions all along the Innovative-to-Traditional Spectrum of Preferences. Some folks are set in their ways, less stubborn than they are just comfortable with what they know and enjoy. Others are tireless in their pursuit of experimentation and things new to their ears and minds. Me, I’ve always been somewhere in the middle, needing both the stimulation of new and exciting things and the comfort of the familiar.
Label: High Roller Records.
The songwriting smarts begin by using a crapload of hooks and trills to break up the normal speed/thrash drive, which, along with all the echo and reverb give the album the slightest touch of Norwegian black/thrash nastiness. Opener “Vendetta” brings this and more, filtering the Maidenesque harmonies through extra velocity to arrive at an early Helloween vibe. “Electric Ecstasy,” meanwhile, morphs a double lead section into a full band intro for a great solo, showing how much each of Vulture’s songs is way more than just a collection of riffs and vocals. There’s a real plan here.
This formula is rock solid, obviously, but it isn’t necessarily the songwriting or choice of styles that makes The Guillotine such a rollicking good time, but those aforementioned performances. Everything here, from the unrelenting forward momentum of the drums (with plenty of thuds and muted cymbal hits) to the barrage of harmonized trills in the title track, exudes huge amounts of energy and jubilation. These boys absolutely love their influences and this type of material, and want to make sure that their musical tribute doesn’t just stop with the blueprints, but carries through to the execution.
Nowhere is this more evident than with the reverb-drenched soloing and vocals, both of which truly give the album its character while expanding the range of its attitude. The soloing is nuanced, classy, and expertly placed, never feeling like an afterthought. The vocals of L. Steeler, by contrast, are the most nutso of Vulture’s elements. Steeler apes everything from Tom Araya’s banshee wails to Paul Baloff’s unhinged cracking, spitting and cackling and screaming his way through every song. Mostly, the man is the charismatic top layer of the band’s massive personality.
As long as you aren’t completely dialed to the Innovative side of the Spectrum, you probably need this. The Guillotine won’t change the overall makeup of your music collection, but hot damn if it won’t provide a great soundtrack to the next party with your denim-and-leather-clad buddies.