Generation of Vipers
Howl and Filth (Reissue)
posted on 6/2012 By:
Knoxville’s Generation of Vipers first hit my radar in 2005 with their debut, Grace. It was one of what seems like about a hundred albums I reviewed that year that were built on the Neur-Isis post-metal blueprint, and despite the album’s quality, it was lost in a steady stream of efforts from likeminded bandwagoners. Between then and now, most of the rest of those bands have gone the way of the cellular pager (“Is this hotel Neur-Isis friendly?”), but Generation of Vipers has stayed the course, producing a slow but steady stream of music on their own imprint, Red Witch Recordings. Perseverance now pays off with this deserving reissue of last year’s Howl and Filth on Translation Loss and a vinyl release via Inherent Records.
The difference-maker for Generation of Vipers continues to be their insistence at shrugging off the conventional overplayed ebb and flow dynamics in favor of varying shades of an altogether darker, more menacing ethos. Whereas many in the genre continued to go lighter and lighter, Generation of Vipers remain focused on bowling you over with Through Silver in Blood caustic tribalisms. When the style’s done right, you feel the heft, that organic, visceral connection so masterfully constructed by Neurosis. These guys are no Neurosis, of course, but they’re definitely of that spirit, as opposed to the Cult of Lunas, Red Sparrowes and the like.
That heaviness hits you right out of the gate with “Ritual,” when even the clean guitar strumming can’t detract from the surging primal rhythm section, and by the time Joshua Holt gives voice, the band’s intentions are clear. Their lean three-piece structure suits their purpose, and the style and production allow the percussion and bass to propel the songs, with guitar often used simply for texture and the roaring vocals left relatively low in the mix. There are, of course, the genre-typical song dynamics, but the band doesn’t lighten things as often as they simply slow them down. There are a few curveballs here and there, like the haunting, Reznor-like instrumental interlude “All of This Is Mine” and the slinky groove in “Eternal.” Proceedings wrap up with the intriguing “The Misery Coil,” which shifts from sparse ambience to a near Mastodonian acerbic sludge that nicely contrasts the rest of the album.
You won’t hear many albums in this style this year, but I’m glad Generation of Vipers is still plying their trade. A good find for Translation Loss.
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