It’s really quite amazing how much seemingly random information I have learned writing for Angry Metal Guy. Vidres a la Sang,1 for instance, triggered a small dive into the complexities of Spanish politics. You see, this band has throughout its 20 year history (including an 8-year hiatus) sung exclusively in Catalan, the language of Catalonia, a region of Spain with a strong desire for independence. Strong enough, in fact, to unsuccessfully try and declare itself independent without input from the government. Vidres a la Sang, however, seems to draw less from these struggles than it does from the poetry of one Miquel Martí i Pol. I don’t know any Catalan, but after hearing Fragments de l’esdevenir, I can tell you one thing: it sounds metal as fuck.
If I have to draw any comparisons, Vidres’ goth-tinged blackened death reminds me the most of Usurpress. There is a similar inventiveness in the riffs, and an atmosphere of cosmic horror that slithers under the skin. Vidres keeps the scope much smaller, though, and this is entirely by design. The opener is intense and ominous, growing increasingly menacing as it goes, and “Salveu-me Els Ulls” is more crushing still, with a thick and oppressive atmosphere that clings to the notes like an airtight shroud. The vocals are stapled together from a mixture of growls and whispers and something in between, resulting in a grueling, tortured and choked style. The further use of layered vocals and canon singing increases the feeling of unsteadiness and claustrophobia. Between the domineering voices and the suffocating assault of the drums, the opening salvo of Fragments is like getting beat up in a dark corner of an ancient mausoleum.
This is a pretty short album: 4 proper songs, divided by what amounts to an extended interlude, totalling a mere 35 minutes. With that in mind, it’s a real shame that the lunchtime tune, ”Ventres de Llum,” doesn’t land. It amounts to little more than empty atmospherics and warbling chords with some spooky whisper-screaming. “Fins Aquí” restarts the momentum, but the overuse of the main riff makes the track a bit repetitive, a demerit I can’t levy anywhere else on the album. Still, the sense of menace remains strong, enhanced by a deep feeling of loss in “Ara és demà,” which sports a more melodic and open sound. It’s a beautiful and forlorn track, providing good contrast with the chokehold of the first half.
Fragments has a great sense of development in a fairly short time, peaking towards violent claustrophobia on the first half and opening into fresh air by the end. The overall solid songwriting is filigreed with excellent performances. Of particular note are the fantastic, expressive solos, the absolute whirlwind of drums and the great depth and diversity of the bass, courtesy of Martin Méndez (Opeth) in a guest spot. The production feels tailor-made; dense and heavy, with good clarity to the instruments. The master is muffled, but in a way that feels calculated; this is not loudness for the sake of loudness. The high tones are muted, the low tones hum for but a moment before they disappear, buried alive in fresh dirt. There is a sense of deliberate stillness that is constantly torn apart by the pummelling assault of drums and vocals, with only the bass contrasting with clarity and depth. It’s a major factor to the ominous atmosphere that permeates the album.
Vidres a la Sang is an impressive unit. The songwriting and performances are largely top-notch, and a few minor dips in quality hardly spoil the experience as a whole. The gloomy atmosphere of violent strangulation is what grabs you first, but the real depth in composition is what keeps you coming back. Fragments de l’esdevenir is a delicious diminutive dose of asphyxiating anxiety. I don’t know what’s in the waters of Catalan, but I want more of it.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Abstract Emotions
Websites: vidresalasang.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/vidresalasang
Releases Worldwide: July 1st, 2022