Vulvodynia
Praenuntius Infiniti


4.5
superb

Review

by Rivers of Naaiers USER (15 Reviews)
September 18th, 2021 | 14 replies


Release Date: 2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vulvodynia hone in on their melo-slam hysteria to craft one of the most energized albums of the year

There are many debates surrounding the popularity of Vulvodynia as a South African. They are one of the biggest musical exports to leave our shores, but their come up is perplexing to say the least. Is it the relatability of memes and bong-water stains, resembling the same blue collar appeal that magnetizes fans to the likes of Cannibal Corpse or The Black Dahlia Murder? Is it the humble beginnings of Battery Drums bedroom blasting to touring the world as one of the most successful South African outfits ever to leave O.R. Tambo International that paints the underdog appeal? Or is it the musical journey from gratuitous gore and gurgles on 2014’s Lord of Plagues to the majesty of Praenuntius Infiniti? Who knows. But if you’re a South African fan of metal and hardcore since the days of sharing Limewire viruses and three Architecture of Aggression songs, then you’ll find the global hype behind Vulvodynia intimidating and confusing to a scene so small we all have to import the vinyl version of this album. But what is undeniably concrete after listening to their fifth release, and understanding the context in which this band came up in, is that the sheer effort Duncan Bentley and co. put into the entire package sets a definite standard for local bands here, on the tip of Africa, and possibly beyond.

This fact didn’t really hit me until I saw them live for the first time. Almost 6 years into their existence, I was finally able to catch them at a show in London with Archspire, Beneath the Massacre and Inferi. While their tour buddies from the Global North were obviously impressive for someone who has never been to a tech-death show, it was Vulvodynia that blew The Underworld Camden out of the E.U.. The interactions with the crowd, the energy on-stage and the powerful live show were all alien to my naïve brain, still clogged with the memories of Port Elizabeth’s bars filled with local bands that had no recorded music (guilty), choking on Princeton red and moshing to the sounds of small-town crab syndrome. Now, almost two years later, I am left wondering if Vulvodynia can maintain that same hunger and aggression, post-COVID, and capture the power and urgency that made “Involuntary Doppelganger” sound so boring live.

While I am sure many of my Mzansi brethren will throw stolen Castle Lager glasses at me for daring not to like a Vulvodynia release, you would have to break your mom’s FitBit trying to count the steps forward the band has taken in writing and production since their last release. While Mob Justice was a bigger and more self-aware sound coming off the hype of Psychosadistic Design, it didn’t captivate me like Finis Omnium Ignorantiam or sound as tongue-in-cheek as Cognizant Castigation, and much of my hype for this latest release came from the debut single sounding more grand, fast and melodic than anything we had heard on their 4th release. But if you found tracks like “Blood Diamond”, “Nyaope” and “Cultural Misogyny” daring explorations for Vulvodynia (the last of those being an incredibly dope album closer), then you best get ready for the weight of Lovecraftian terror that Praenuntius Infiniti brings to the table. Instead of the blatancy of Mob Justice that sought to escape Bob the Butcher’s unfortunate vomit-boarding habits (ew), this album takes everything I love from the band’s first two full lengths and uses the tested conviction of Mob Justice (as well as the immense talent of their current line-up) to craft a dynamic and exciting, melodic slam-death triumph. Everything from the production to the writing oozes care and precision, and it honestly dwarfs anything else they have previously done.

For fans of Slamz™, you will no doubt love every second of Praenuntius Infiniti. From start to finish, you’ll be battered like butter chicken with growls, jun-juns, and gattoline gun drumming. The sound is chunky yet incredibly polished, with every note, lyric and bomb-blast finding deeper clarity in the mix. However, unlike the sheer thunder of snare and palm mutes of previous albums, there is a lot more variety to the writing and a natural cadence to the production, both an indication that lot of time and energy went into the construction of this album. It’s most definitely the biggest sounding album to come out of South Africa, but the precision and weightiness doesn’t fall into the production traps you’d expect in modern metal, especially in this era of Michael Bay loudness and gimmicks. The band has truly put the work in to effectively capture their interplay of slam, melodic death metal, and thumby jazz stuff that I won’t pretend to understand. With a major production overhaul and exciting variety of guitar styles, this current line-up of Vulvodynia brings out new and refreshing dynamics to their signature sound, pulling the listener between melodic technicality and white boy summer slam metal.

Lyrically dense and littered with every extreme vocal style known to Sam Dunn, you may be conflicted about how Duncan Bentley projects himself to match the cries of deities and humans alike being violently tortured at the end of time. This depends on which metalhead camp you fall into. On the one hand, his matching of different screams to the rhythm and pace of the drums and guitars can sound sharp, electric and addictive, seemingly breaking down some conventions of what one expects out of the genre. But on the other hand, you may find some strange instances of syllables and phrasing that sacrifice lyrical sequencing to simply find a way to fit words into bars. But no matter how one may feel about the lyrics or their phrasing, Bentley – between two incredibly impressive guitar performances – steals the show on Praenuntius Infiniti, as he continues to marry the strengths of his different vocal personalities, to form a very distinct and truly convincing character for this album.

“The Shadowy Descent of Gaia” immediately sets the tone and theme with exciting chords and a near flawless chorus. From here, this powerful opener is followed by tracks that boast variety in both pace and style. Between stories of celestial destruction and dark anthropocide, tracks like “Eternal Wasteland of Galaxies” and both parts of “Banquet of Enigmatic Horrors” present a lot of groove, sentiments of hardcore, and many full-bodied chords to ably contrast with the litany of palm-mutes and technical, low-gain leads that please the listener to no end. Yet, it’s tracks like “Ravenous Revolution”, “Praenuntius Ascends” and “Deicidal Finality” that reveal explicitly that Vulvodynia are much more than slam and sweeps. And when “The War Within” arrives, we begin to hear the band explore even further with their satanic Tosin side coming out mid-track. Blended together with another stellar chorus, the band doesn’t waste a moment on any of these songs, especially with Jamie Graham’s feature showcasing the band's versatility for songwriting and melody.

After Graham belts his final word, we are immediately transported back to 2008 with “Forging the Deity Crusher”, which comes off like a super technical, hidden track on The Red Shore’s Unconsecrated. It is unforgiving in its abuse of the listener from beginning to end, with chromatic runs and manic drums that cannot help but make me feel 16 again with my fringe glued to a 360p YouTube band binge. Skipping past “Funeral Ov Gods” – a.k.a The Shadowier Descent of Gaia – “Deicidal Finality” finishes the album on a powerful note with Bentley jumping back and forth between his signature low and his incredibly bracing high-scream. The cadence of this vocal duality and other interesting bellows, all soaring above the orchestral wooing and mania, paints a captivating closer to a wonderfully intense metal experience. Relying heavily on Bentley’s style and versatility atop a furious troika of 8-strings and Thomas Hughes’ relentless drumwork, the story comes to an end with Praenuntius whispering harrowingly into the listeners ear. And amongst the carnage and terror of an eldritch horror consuming all of time and space, the South Africans listening to this album will return to the reality of Baker’s Cricket lunchboxes filled with weed and a crumbling national government, bewildered by how so much celestial energy and brutality originated from the same country where Bles Bridges’ corpse sells out shows at church bazaars.

Stellar album.



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user ratings (51)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2021


18258 Comments


Now there's a name I remember!

Get Low
September 18th 2021


14334 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Decent band, I'll check this soon

combustion07
September 18th 2021


12822 Comments


I dig this album. First Time hearing this band and honestly the only reason I check this is because I somehow got them confused with Volturyon. Good review!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
September 18th 2021


32053 Comments


This was a fun read, nicely done dude.

"a scene so small we all have to import the vinyl version of this album. "

This is hilarious lol



Brabiz
September 19th 2021


2215 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Used to be really into this band. Had a few hoodies as well... which were slowly consumed by girls i dated. Have skipped out on some of their recent stuff, but this review piques my interest

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
September 19th 2021


18960 Comments


Bob the Butcher is badass

Tundra
September 21st 2021


9803 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

nice

IsolatedSymmetry
September 22nd 2021


67 Comments


Saw them in Cape Town in Feb 2020, last live show I went to. They were brilliant. Singles from this one were good so I'm looking forward to hearing the whole album.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
September 24th 2021


21288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just saw some amazing copy pasta in the band's Facebook comments:



"No, you're NOT a slam kid



I'm so sick of all these people who think they're slam. No, you're not. Most of you bands are not close to being slam. I see some of these people saying " put 100 hours in this new slam track it's great! That's nothing, most of us can put 300+ hours in all of our slam music. I see people who only do deathcore and claim to be slam. Come talk to me when you are doing GUTTURALS, BLAST BEATS, AND ACTUAL SLAMS. Then we can be friends.



Also DEAR ALL FEMALES: Vulvodynia and Within Destruction is not real Slam. Signs of The Swarm is not real slam. Suicide Silence is not real slam Infant Annihilator is not real slam. Slipknot is not real slam. DEATHCORE BANDS. ARE. NOT. REAL. SLAM. Put down the Deathcore bands and listen to something that actually requires skill and talent for once. Like Abominable Putridity



Imagine thinking you're real slam



- Sincerely all ACTUAL Slam Kids"



Beautiful

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
September 24th 2021


26278 Comments


slipknot is not real slam

Essence
September 26th 2021


6695 Comments


"Put down the Deathcore bands and listen to something that actually requires skill and talent for once."

???? lmao

Koris
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2022


21288 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album slams

Viraemias
March 31st 2023


412 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Probably the best music review I've read. Very well written



Listened to the album while I played through "Serious Sam: Syberian Mayhem" and let me tell you there's no better power fantasy than mowing down hordes of monsters while listening to this album. Really gets you in a flow state. Album is relentless, has good variety and an excellent flow. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. Btw, the features of various vocalists were aranged in a way they actually complimented and enhanced the songs which I see very rarely in the deathcore or slam genres. As you said it speaks for the songwriting skills of the band.



Favorite song: Banquet of Enigmatic Horrors, Pt. 2:Agony Ft Oliver Rae Aleron

GrimDawn
November 27th 2023


111 Comments


Jesus christ what is up with that average this album is fucking awesome.



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