Grand Rapids, Michigan’s Vestal Virgin is on the awesome and growing Colloquial Sound Recordings roster and brings a dense, post-rock inflected brand of lo-fi experimental black metal to the table. On The Four Meditations, Vestal Virgin’s second release (cassette only, like the first), Vestal rips through four expansive tracks that at first may sound like instrumentals. They’re not; a buried, heavily distorted vocal track howls—like wind—throughout, as if behind a veil. The four songs—“The Fire,” “The Water,” “The Feeding,” “The Keeping”—so named for the meditations of the Vestal Virgins (see below), are best listened to in one sitting, if not on tape, then on a good set of headphones.
A little historical background on the band’s awesome name, one that deserves note:
A Vestal Virgin was a priestess devoted to Vesta, the goddess of the hearth in the Roman pantheon. Vestals were considered paragons of purity; they were selected at a young age, between six and ten years old, from upper class families, and had to be free of both physical and mental defects. Vestals took vows of chastity, and were buried alive—spilling a Vestal’s blood was forbidden—if they broke their vows before the end of their thirty-year terms. During their time of servitude, Vestals were charged by the state with keeping a sacred fire burning in the Temple of Vesta on Rome’s Palatine hill and faced severe punishment for letting the fire die. Vestals held great power: a vestal could free any condemned prisoner by touching him or her, their testimony was regarded as true and anyone who assaulted a Vestal, sexually or otherwise, was condemned to death, though Nero seemed to get away with it.
Things to keep in mind when listening.
Buy: Colloquial Sound Recordings Webstore (Act fast–the album is limited to 39 copies, less than half of which remain. Gorgeous packaging.)