Reviewed: [November 2019]
Released [2019 Self Released]
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
The Phoenix suburb known as Paradise Valley hardly conjures the dread-inducing imagery of Transylvania or the Carpathians, home to the “blood sucking creatures of the night” and “apparitions from the pits of Hell” noted in Slayer’s “At Dawn They Sleep.” Instead, one is more likely to imagine retirees tooling about in golf carts or walking yappy little lap dogs while sporting tennis whites – which I suppose is terrifying in its own right. Of course, the heat there can be undeniably hellish, so there’s that too.
But regardless, dark forces are at work in this desert oasis. The new band Vampiric – which, at present, would seem to be a one-man affair consisting of Nik Williams, aka The Count – has followed up its late December three-song EP Death Tore Through with a full-length debut The Magic Of The Night. And it is chock full of things that go bump in the night – or that might tear out your throat should you have the misfortune to bump in to them in the night, as evidenced by “Vampire Blood,” “The Witch,” “Of Bloodlust And The Moon,” “Carpathian Lycan Curse” and “The Witch.”
The music is blackened thrash with symphonic aspirations and a heavy dose of vintage horror-inspired camp, sort of mash up of Mercyful Fate, Tribulation and The Misfits with some Cradle of Filth thrown in with its opulent keyboards and occasional all-out sprints. It’s an ambitious combination that could very well have ended up as a sea of cheese, but is well executed here.
The songs can be rather complex, and occasionally over long, but for the most part are briskly paced and crammed with gnashing, punchy hooks, making for plenty of headbang-able moments. The retro-sounding keyboards – be they organ peals or harpsichord or synth strains – that are omnipresent here are a cool touch, adding Gothic pomp to the rabble and creating an overall sense of eeriness and unease that would largely not be there without.
And part of the reason for that are Williams’ vocals. A fairly standard thrash metal/punk rock raspy shout, his voice is certainly not a bad one – especially by most metal standards. But the tenor and delivery often don’t quite capture the requisite atmosphere, especially on a more dramatic song like “Gothic, This Masquerade.”
King Diamond’s piercing falsetto, late-Type O Negative frontman Peter Steele’s Lurch-like basso profundo, Dani Filth’s cat-with-its-ass-on-fire shriek or even Glenn Danzig’s ‘roid rage take on Roy Orbison’s warble bring personality and charisma and help seal the otherworldly deal on the material they accompany. Vampiric could have benefited from something like that here, as a more theatrical and compelling voice might have turned what is a promising debut into something really special.
Still, Magic is a pretty impressive effort. A lot obviously went into the album, and there is a lot going on in the finished product – it is most definitely not the scraggly, no-fi, uber old-school outing typical of one-man endeavors. And it’s an accomplished work that is performed with conviction and purpose. There is great potential at work here, and if Williams can find some like-minded souls in the desert Southwest – notably a more versatile vocalist – to help Vampiric move forward, the future for its dark tidings would seem quite bright.