I’ve been doing a whole lot of thinking the last few weeks. As a straight white man in my mid-30s from the South, it’s been a pretty hard last few months of realizing just how bad life has gotten, or remained in the vast majority of cases, for people who don’t look like me. I’ve tried to do 2 things during this time: educate myself about people who aren’t like me, and distract myself with mindless entertainment to try to balance myself out. One of the activities that sort of blend the two is listening to music made by people from marginalized communities, and I hope it has truly made me a better person. Vile Creature is just such an example. And while their latest record, Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!, is a fantastic example of music from just such a community, it is so very much more than just that token.
For the uninitiated, Hamilton, ON’s own Vile Creature has been pumping out their long-form take on blackened sludge/doom since 2015. Unlike what you’re probably hearing in your head if you hadn’t heard of the band before, their version is more contemplative of ideas and more narrative in a way. Their music tells stories from the perspective of the downtrodden. Their previous record, Cast of Static and Smoke, were emotional perspectives of individual characters within a larger dystopian story. The self-named angry queer gloom cult also put out A Pessimistic Doomsayer in 2016, telling the story of growing up queer and forging relationships with fiction as a means of escape. The narrative nature of their music makes it unique on its own without even getting into the deeper dives of the record.
Such a pattern continues on Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm!, but in an even more mature way. The 5 tracks on Glory, Glory! weave together in a new way that they weren’t on previous records. Partially, that’s due to the dramatic superiority of the production quality on this release to the others. Money doesn’t make a great record, but damn does it certainly help. There is a far more important reason for the connected narrative of this collection of tracks, but one thing that certainly holds this record together is the great production.
What’s more important is the singularity and oneness of this record. There are a number of themes that echo throughout the record as if the intention the entire time was to make a single work split up into 5 parts (SPOILER ALERT: that was definitely the point). The songwriting was already there for this duo with the sprawling sections of oddly melodic heavy riffs. Sections flow from one part to the next, building up the songs to really accentuate the lyrical themes. But there’s a gravitas to it that wasn’t completely there before. That helps tie together what was already there to begin with. It was just the missing piece.
I sometimes worry about the overly glowing words I choose when I review records, but I can’t avoid it here. Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is a perfect record. The dramatic ebbs and flows show off the dedication it took to put together this story. This narrative is a new perspective for us all, both in terms of the story and also the direction this experiment in doom metal. This band has produced one of the most interesting records of 2020. They are deserving of any accolade I can come up with. You only need to listen to know I’m right.
Glory, Glory! Apathy Took Helm! is available now via Prosthetic Records.