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Soul Remnants & Solium Fatalis @ Saint Vitus

Soul Remnants by Christopher Harrington
Soul Remnants by Christopher Harrington

Though you can’t escape reality — and shouldn’t even consider it given the dire political and social circumstances these days — a positive and organic semi-escape is a solid idea every so often. For a Thursday evening in New York City, there’s no better respite than a stacked bill at Saint Vitus, a place to waver in fantasy while still being grounded. Think: inflatable wacky tube-men waving about.

Five extreme metal bands met up last Thursday and collectively opened a deep portal of magic and grime. Philadelphia’s avant-sludge outfit God Root started things up. An interesting placement in the show lineup, the five members (three guitarists) attempted to crack a special gateway, creating creaky and doomy soundscapes beneath bassist/vocalist Fred Grabosky’s hustled screams. God Root incorporates a healthy amount of noise into the environment of their sound, paying homage to the gods of old, the universe, and the ever-circular immensity of nature.

New Jersey’s Sunrot is equally adept at environmental manipulation. They are patient to generate waves of intensity, stalking around in gloom and doom, waiting for the moment of detonation. Vocalist Lex Alex Nihilum is the whirling captain of the ship. He is confrontational in a psychological way, perpetually challenging. At the set’s climax Nihilum plunged violently backwards directly onto the cold, hard Saint Vitus floor, winning over the remaining skeptics in attendance. Sunrot wanted to break through the maddening universe, and they got damn close.

North Carolina’s blackened gazers Mo’ynoq followed, performing deftly underneath perpetual shadows. The band’s set was obscure and vibrating: a progressive touch layered every proposal, but there was equal rawness, a symbiosis that worked well and created a lively current throughout the crowd. The group ran through compositions which ranged from quick/punk to long/colossal to first-wave black metal. There was crushing width throughout, intricacy and transcendence. Mo’ynoq kept the night fresh and continuous, a midway point of exactness and whipping fury.

From the high mountains of the Granite State came blackened death metal outfit Solium Fatalis. The group gathered quickly and wasted no time in pulverizing the room. There were mystical wisps of nether-spirits floating over the quartet as they drove each linear song to a point of maximization. The band was layered and able to create a unique sense of crispness. You’ve heard this form of death metal before, but never quite so interlocking. The two forms overlapped, under-lapped, and twisted into a shadowy cauldron of spectacle. Guitarist Ryan Beevers veered the band toward the outer-regions with his lighting Trey Azagthoth-like bust-outs, a wondrous sprinkle on top of a tight and defined sound.

Soul Remnants closed things up with a taut and dense set, reaching points of sculptural ecstasy. The band plays death metal so rigidly positioned, you can’t help but fall
righteously in line. There’s a primitive and tribal quality to the group’s laser-like technicality. They play like a family, some super-machine found deep within the forest. Frontman Mitchell Fletcher commanded the stage like an intimidating wizard, belting out deep and gnarled scorches of pain. Guitarists Tom Preziosi and Chad Fisher traded virtuosic jaunts, combining into a monster of strength and wizardry. Drummer Colin Conway and bassist Ryan Murphy flourished in passages of rigid and organic groove, crafting a subsection of dimension and form.

Soul Remnants are a study in death metal abundance, with progressive nuance and hints of black metal. The quintet’s latest record, Ouroboros, sounds like it was written to be played in a live setting; concentrated on strong structure and infallible energy. Onstage, the band certainly follows suit, performing with immense interaction, locking in effortlessly and artistically.

When you leave Saint Vitus, you’re content. You know there’ll be more points of semi-escapism to wander back to. That’s good, because there’s much work to be done in the outside world: a place that desperately needs the type of energy we give to art and music, given also to awareness and participation in social, political, and progressive movements. This is the fuel we can use to build a world separate from corporate interest, insane greed, and continual dehumanization.

—Christopher Harrington

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