Reviewed: November 2021
Released: 2021, Electric Talon Records
Reviewer: Kat Knite
From a pair of distant countries comes a beautiful doom marriage of two equally melancholic, heavy groups – Costa Rica’s Age of the Wolf and Tel from the United States. While the former lay an intriguingly intense, sludgy base, the latter convey more moody, melodic emotions. Together, they curate a unique split record by the name Vigils – a fascinating, varying, but united body of work. The two bands used social media to communicate in 2019, and though they were physically far away, their connection born from a mutual love of dark music was strong enough that they decided to gift its product to the world together. Call it a love-child of their crafts if you will, Vigils speaks worlds to what can be conveyed when people come together in dedication to their art. Joining with Philadelphia’s Electric Talon Records, they released this gothically breathtaking work in August of 2021, just in time for Autumn to come and really bring its colours to life.
Age of the Wolf and Tel started working on Vigils during the COVID-19 quarantine, spending the time indoors to write and perfect their songs. Both bands express an intensity through their sounds in different ways, yet somehow the atmospheres join harmoniously in their duality. With mammoths of tracks, both in play time and in stature, their worlds are woven in as one by natural threads of all that aching affliction and introspection we love so dearly in our favourite dimly-lit music. A symbiosis of tormented characters fuels the heartbeat of the record through the flow of the instruments, solidified by beautifully cohesive production. If the flavour of your soul is blue & black, the soundscape in your mind has to be playing Vigils.
In the first two songs, we get to hear what Age of the Wolf is all about. ‘Priestess of Cledones’ sets a fierce image – dissonant groans of instrumentation weaving into groovy structures and back out again, creepy guitar notes accentuating a dull gnawing from the inside. Such a gloomy canvas would be remiss without a few demonic screams as the song climaxes, and of course the band gives us what we’re waiting for. Next, ‘Slaves to the Riff’ delves further into that chromatic, eerie state, as those pictures of desolate places come to the front of my mind – the abandoned warehouse, the dingy alley, the vampire lurking in the shadows… all these vivid imaginings materialising before me, the listener, who dreams to be engulfed by such ghastly worlds of horrible mystery. Now having given their show, inventive, fresh, and still rooted in classic dreadfulness, Age of the Wolf pass the dark-matter torch to their brothers in doom.
Punish introduces Tel on the third track, and as those first notes fill my chest and stomach I see new visuals… Broken down shots in black & white, the distorted grainy images filtering the face of a ghostly and beautiful personification of pain. Spacier in production, but with no lack of potency, the band display an array of clean & dirty tones, gorgeous vocal layers and brilliantly arranged harmonies. In ‘Downer’, these themes are only amplified, the track waxing and waning like the moon in October, before carrying me into the night sky with an absolutely gorgeous guitar solo. Interestingly, Dante DuVall’s vocals have nearly indie-rock qualities to them, but when he comes in with his screams (and believe me, he does not hold back) it’s shocking in the best of ways. He finishes the song with a haunting piano melody and leads us to the final breath of Vigils – ‘Salvation’. Stunningly euphonious, this song shows off heavenly acoustic guitar and reverb echoing from that endless space of nirvana. A perfect end to an album if there ever was one, the beauty of this song fills the night of my soul.
In its masterful progression, Vigils takes a high seat on my albums list this month. Even more beautifully so, it shows us definitively that music has the power to speak a universal language between people who’ve never even met in person. I do really hope that one day, Age of the Wolf and Tel will indeed come face-to-face, because that’s a tour that would absolutely set blue fire to the stages.
Don’t wait – Get Vigils HERE!