Vulvodynia burst into the death metal scene five years ago and have since grown exponentially. You can get the bands merch printed on just about any item or surface imaginable – from backpacks to shower curtains, on sandals and your new child’s birth certificate. Probably. They’ve also put a handful of LPs and EPs, more importantly to the purpose of this review. 2016’s Psychosadistic Design saw the band hit a brutal death metal stride that seemingly disregarded their relative freshness to the genre, and now, three years on, and several more releases from the members’ side projects, the South African’s are back with Mob Justice.
If you’re a sadist, you’ll read comment threads on metal social media and find those unfairly calling Vulvodynia a “merch” band. This record isn’t for them, as they’d still denounce it even if it were the pinnacle death metal release of the year. It’s not, but Mob Justice will only enforce Vulvodynia’s brand as the still young band charges forward. If Archspire are at one end of death metal and Black Tongue the other (for the purpose of the next comparison, just go with it), tracks like “Blood Diamond” and “Famine” sit right in the middle. Sub-bass drops are few and far between, subtle when they do arrive, pitching dense brutal death into the ground with more than a hint of groove at points. Other than that, it’s just hardcore with growls. Just kidding.
There aren’t any real leaps from the path outside of “Echoes of the Motherland”, an interlude that would have benefitted from swallowing up the following track, “Nyaope”. The short track is remarkably groovy considering the symphonic elements, and should have crept into “Reclaim The Crown Part I”, easily the most dynamic and memorable track – it helps that the Trevor Strand (The Black Dahlia Murder) cameo is exceptional and the shred section is considerable. “..Part II” has more string-wizardry, but outside of some whammy bar and pedal action in flourishes at the intersection of riffs, Mob Justice could maybe do with bigger and bolder leads. Or not. Ask the Slam Police first if it’s allowed.
The other cameos are alright. Just alright. Malevolence‘s Alex Taylor turns a typically compact slam section into beatdown for its duration, but it feels tacked on. It’s pleasantly violent, and will surely turn rooms into tsunamis of wayward elbows and lost hats, but maybe there’s a side project from this band that would have more benefit from it. The Gutalax frog ribbit is basically a self-actualising parody of its own accord, so the presence of it on “Nyaope” removed it from this review playlist after one go. Whatever. It’s for some, not all. It’s undetermined who’s doing the powerviolence yelps on “..Part I”, but just use that instead next time. Please.
Mob Justice is a little step back, musically speaking, from the unflinchingly heavy Psychosadistic Design, but Vulvodynia haven’t lost their mettle, far from it – the band increasing the volume and quality of their touring performances at an admirable rate. It’s just difficult to see throngs of new fans jumping on board with this record when bands like Visceral Disgorge and Disentomb are releasing big records in the same genre. Maybe it’s a little bit of burnout from members of the band having so many side projects in the extreme music scene, maybe not. Let’s hope the next record brings back a little bit more of the piss’n’vinegar of older Vulvodynia.
Mob Justice is available June 30 via Lacerated Enemy Records.