Reviewed: Vultures At Arms Reach – Colossus
by Mat Weir
If you’re a Santa Cruz resident even remotely tapped into the local music scene and you haven’t heard of Vultures At Arms Reach (VAAR) then you’re a got-dang dirty liar. In the three years of their hatching, VAAR has released 2 EPs, +)))((()))((()))((()))- (the battery symbol) and дикарu (Russian for “savages”), both with high number of downloads and an underground, online following.
Recently, VAAR released their latest album, Colossus. Available on CD or blood red vinyl, the album’s title describes itself perfectly. VAAR creates their sludgy sound via Godflesh, sprinkle some Neurosis and then set the whole fucking thing on fire.
It opens with the title track, a droning tune about how we build prisons of hate around ourselves, flies through “Blood Eagle” with its headbanging riffs and gang vocals, settling into “Dust,” a hauntingly-melodic number that starts beautifully and ends as hard as concrete.
This is where VAAR gives a creative middle finger to anyone who tries to classify them.
Side B begins with “Ashes,” another song that starts gently, incorporating a morose piano with Travis Howe’s suicidal guitar wails, Brian Rucker’s pounding backbeats and Nate Kotila’s steady bass. “Ashes” rolls into “Heavy Hands,” ditching the piano and cleaner sound for their beloved distortion and switching it up even further with Howe ditching his scream for singing.
“I’ve always liked the concept of an album break,” explains Howe. “It’s like, ‘That’s our level of Rock ‘n Roll. That’s our intensity, now here’s a nice little break before we do it again.’”
“We’ve been branching out in a lot of different ways,” agrees Rucker.
“Yeah,” clarifies Kotila. “We’ve been experimenting with a lot of weird stuff, but it’s still us.”
This is proven by the last song on the LP, a Melvin’s-like doomy number called, “Draugr.” The song is one of the reasons I love this album so much. It’s strange and distant at times, with the band less concerned about entertaining their audience as they are trying to forge a path only they can see.
Colossus is available at Streetlight Records while supplies last and look out for VAAR t-shirts, available soon!!