It’s 1973, you’re half asleep while the late night movie plays on in the background. You’re barely aware of what’s occurring within the narrative but the soundtrack triggers the urge to look over at the screen to see a key moment. You’ll remember this night for years and yet you’ll give it a vaguely legendary quality that will never be attainable again. VAMPYROMORPHA’s latest album Herzog (Named after the director Werner Herzog) is a love letter to exactly that feeling. Formed in 2014 the duet consists of Nemes Black (Guitar, Bass, Drums) and Jim Grant (Vocals, Hammond Organ).
The album opens with Darkness Whore, layered with thinly veiled B-movie strings and crust laden guitars. It gets into its stride fairly quickly and sets the quirky ROB ZOMBIE-esque tone that will flavour the rest of the album really well.
I’ve got to love a song that has anything to do with something as weird as Cannibal: The Musical. I can see Cannibal Musical becoming one of those songs that you’ll be listening to while you’re out shopping and you’ll just start singing along too, but then getting some funny looks. Whilst this song is emblematic of the bands groovy style and is really consistent with the rest of the album, I feel as though they could have doubled down on the concept. TURISAS on their 2007 album The Varangian Way managed this with the Miklagard Overture, a piece that sounded like it had been ripped from a stage show. Obviously, the level of instrumentation was very different there but the concept could have been cool. Rope in some amateur dramatics societies to provide the chorus, just to give it more of that musical feel.
By the final track two things have become devastatingly apparent. The first is that this is no surface level admiration for their interests. They’ve dealt with their source media in a respectful and creative way while seeking out things that the general public may not have come across yet. The second thing is that they really hate people who try to search for their band on phones. Vampyromadness is the ultimate offering and it is by far the most overtly aggressive song on this release. Starting with a simplistic descent into madness before cutting to the meat of the matter this song feels like it’s meant for live shows. I think that’s the problem I have with this album. It’s not that it is badly made, nor is it because no love went into making it but because the album seems designed for you to be having a few drinks with friends and throwing yourself into the cheesiness of it. I’m actually tempted to revisit this album later on once I’ve done exactly that to see how the experiences compare.
I think that if you like THE MELVINS, ROB ZOMBIE or bad horror movies you’ll want to check out this album. If you are not interested in any of those things it will be a hard thing to sell you. For me however it’s a seven out of ten, but I think that would have been higher if the circumstances of my listening were different.
Words: Jacob McCrone
Herzog is out now.