Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni – Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni (2012)


To make meaningful commentary on a band like Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni, or any other band walking the old death metal tightrope for that matter, one has to hear them in context with the specific niche in time that their sound occupies. Execute a bit of nifty time-travel in the mind and place the band concerned in the august company that it aspires to keep. Observe if it compares favourably with at least the spirit of the originals in terms of aspects like general coherency in songwriting, perpetual will to forward motion, and, above all else, that ineffable, visceral reaction that only the very best are capable of evoking. Originality in this cloistered paradigm is a disingenuous word; what the avid listener hopes for is a transmission of the same vitality that informed the heyday of this music.

Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni posits no claim to innovation but that is no crime in itself. Incantation, the bread n’ butter of modern death metal, is frequently referenced in the use of flowing tremolo lines plucked from the chromatic scale. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the use of atonality in death metal – it indeed comprises much of the bedrock of the genre – it also becomes something of a cop-out in the hands of lazy bands that lack the creativity required to compose tastefully and in accordance with tradition. Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni aren’t an especially lazy band and are perfectly capable of constructing riffs according to harmonic conventions as heard in the more black metal-inspired sections of this album.

Where Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni falls hard is in arrangement. Songs rarely build up to any kind of crescendo, even compromising whatever momentum may have been built up initially. While any topography consists of peaks and troughs, there appears to be no aesthetic meaning to Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni‘s contours. Riffs rise and fall like waves on the ocean but without any of nature’s geometry, and what results is an album that touts itself as Satanic death metal but feels curiously void of life’s irrepressible energy.

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3 thoughts on “Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni – Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni (2012)”

  1. Thunder Pants says:

    Riffs rise and fall like waves on the ocean but without any of nature’s geometry,””

    There’s the fag-talk with talked about. I’m sorry author but this last sentence sounds very gay.

  2. DCK says:

    This is probably one of the better efforts in terms of power and spirit that I have listened to across the last 2 years. It is not perfect structurally but it does have the energy that the author seems to think it lacks, a lot of it introduced by the blazing use of lead guitar and it has held up over quite a few plays since its release. So, this appears to be a hasty judgment on the part of the author.

    1. William Pilgrim says:

      Thanks for the comment. I heard Sadistic Intent’s Resurrection immediately after this album and while comparisons between the two can only be tenuous, a lot of the relentless “forward motion” that I mention in the review, is abundantly found in SI’s classic while VRPI stutters and stops and draws back upon itself far too often to impart any kind of cadence to the songs. SI hurtles, VRPI second guesses itself. VRPI is also confused between being death metal or black metal. It can execute either to a reasonably middle-tier level (or maybe slightly below) but the dichotomy at times is too great for any kind of consistency.

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