Metal in all its gloriously blackened forms loves combined worship. Yes, that includes the on-the-nose slogan of one masked social media phenomenon. It also pertains to the unified heralding of amplified feedback from Washington’s doom-bearing high priests Sunn 0))). Speaking of, the Pacific Northwest’s combined love for all things dark and dreary (not just the weather) also comes courtesy of DIY death-grinders Rank And Vile. The name alone, hilariously committed to humouring grossness, does justice to a band that toys with blasts, speed, doom, and even the occasional ‘hook’ for good measure.
Enlisting the engineering expertise of Leon del Muerte, Terrorizer LA’s guitarist, and while recording in the site of an old library, there’s nothing here to help you unwind. Matt Oien’s guitars act like blood-ripping chainsaws from the get-go on Churchstate: a cement mixer of whippersnapper tremolos and some strangely discernible vocals from Theo Spence, whose bearded bespectacled fun-loving stage presence shares similarities with Damian Abraham had he chosen the life of grind instead of beer-swigging punk.
With this debut full-length titled Worship, Spence’s emphasis on religious doctrine is equal parts profound, pugnacious, and even peppy. Thoroughly condemning organised repression at the hands of zealots (religious, political or otherwise) in its opening track—“separate fact from faith / we don’t believe in your fairy tales”—the closest the record gets to a crowd-wide unison growl instead comes courtesy of the similarly churchy-titled—and styled as sung—“Bissshooooooppppps, yeeeah! BissshoooOOOOPPS!”. It drips with humour, two-stepping into hardcore territories and features a deluge of overlapped echoey growls in its coda that sound lovingly evil. A similar call-to-arms style vocal pattern repeats through Lobotomobile, again handling the grotesque with some kind of banter. It’s hardly surprising from a band that dubbed their first EP Chameleon Bastard after all.
The four piece’s commitment to not adhering to either grind, death metal or powerviolence shows, speed-running from one to the next in a crazy Rainbow Road route. A Gatecreeper-style quickfire quartet makes up the record’s latter half, pounding through different rhythms and velocities, especially on slowed chin-pumping tune Torchbearer. Drummer James Cox conducts much of these styles from binny stop-start snares (Communion), or tasteful china tinkling on Splatter, whose stand out riff makes the guitar strings sound like they’re made of elastic. In other strange swerves, talk of witches transitions aptly into Hexes, a John Carpenter-like muffled synths ‘n’ growls interlude.
When Rank And Vile open the track lengths up to breathe, it filters through even more left-field stylistic influences. The “all I’ve seen is drug deals go down, orgies…” voice sample marks a fitting start into the depraved whirlwind that is Destitution, whose murky midway point then leaps into another direction: Destination Headbang. Communion’s slowed doomy start fucks with your head when the instruments catch up to each other in a sloppy ring-a-roses, then lock horns into the main harmonic-laden motif. Death metaller riffage, crushing beatdowns, and peppery blasted jams are all on show on Cleanse, whose watery title feels a fitting shower from the grimy and groovy filth that preceded it, back on the religious adjacent-theme to purify us after the Destitution and feeling of being Flayed.
Never letting one section overstay its welcome is the key to Worship’s constant replay value. It’s a delightfully served platter of rapid extremity from a band that can butcher down songs to their gnarly essentials and leave you gasping for more gore. In a year filled with outstanding grind and death metal returners, Rank And Vile could prove their case for the scene’s most fully-formed full-length debutants.
For fans of: Pig Destroyer, Rat King, Nails
‘Worship’ by Rank And Vile is released on 17th November on Modern Grievance Records.
Words by Elliot Burr