Demo:listen: Vile Rites

We’ve featured some pretty incredible and nowadays big names on Demo:listen over the years and something—probably the riffs, compositional skills and all-around excellence of this release—tells me that Vile Rites are the next in line to really take off. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We just got here. Still, after a while, you start to develop an ear for this kind of thing and this debut EP (demo) from Vile Rites absolutely smacks of big-time potential. Without further hype then, let’s get to know USDM’s most exciting new band, Vile Rites.

“The original idea and name for Vile Rites was conceived in Portland, Oregon in early 2017,” remembers Vile Rites’ guitarist/vocalist Alex Miletich. “But the band didn’t become fully formed until 2020, a couple years after I had moved down to Santa Rosa, California.” Alex continues, “After a couple discouraging years of searching for members in a new city, I jammed with [drummer] Aerin [Johnson] and immediately knew he was [the] right drummer for the project.”

According to Alex they were only getting started, when the pandemic hit and he and Aerin had to take a break from rehearsing together. But, he says, “[around] the same time, I had connected with Stephen, and he was interested in joining in on bass. We had jammed together a couple times and I knew he had the chops to be the ‘lead bassist’ we needed [in order] to keep the project a 3-piece. After everything was put on hold for about 6 months due to Covid, we were finally able to start rehearsing as a band and set in on writing the EP.”

Alex says, when it came to writing the EP: “Our main goals musically were to create a unique and dynamic brand of progressive death metal that incorporated psychedelic elements with a good mix of dissonant and melodic parts, something we dubbed ‘psych-death.’” Isn’s this awesome?! Anyway, he continues, “While we wanted the songs to come across as very technical, we wanted to avoid that modern tech death sound that’s often regarded as ‘sterile’ and keep things organic-sounding[.]” 


Alex continues to explain that it was this desire to have a natural-sounding death metal release that led to working with Greg Wilkinson to produce the EP. Alex says, “Being big fans of many of the bands he has produced, we knew we would be able to get an immersive and visceral recording without sacrificing clarity.” 

Alex reflects, “The sheer chaos set in motion by the COVID pandemic, along with the fires that raged here in Northern California within the last few years, were a constant reminder of the impermanence of mankind in general, along with all our modern comforts. Simultaneously, the extra time on my hands due to the lockdowns gave me a chance to spend more time outdoors, appreciating the beauty of the natural world around us (when it wasn’t on fire, of course). This juxtaposition of the grandeur and beauty of nature, along with its callous indifference to the struggles of us humans laid the groundwork for many of the musical and lyrical ideas for Vile Rites. I wanted our art to reflect this contrast as much as possible; the beautiful right next to the hideous, the serenity alongside the chaos. This is why we wanted to incorporate a huge variety of tempos and vibes in the music; these ups and downs within the songs are just as much a part of the storytelling as the lyrics themselves.

“A lot of the lyrical themes were inspired by nature and natural events, such [as] Mount Vesuvius, personified in the song ‘By Virtue of Chaos’, or the ancient tree Methuselah in the title track, ‘The Ageless’. I wanted to take the perspective of these ancient beings looking down on human society and try to imagine how they might think of us. This sort of idea is what inspired the band name as well, basically commenting on the atrocities we have committed as a species and the societal norms we have accepted that are ultimately destroying our planet.”


When it comes to brand-new and very likely timeless death metal it’s not gonna get any better than Vile Rites’ debut EP The Ageless. Following the likes of Death, Cynic, early At the Gates, Morbus Chron, Horrendous, VoidCeremony and so on, Vile Rites are the latest big-brain band to come along and—simply put—show us all how it’s done. Or how it could be done, and probably should be. 

As of this morning, Vile Rites’ debut EP The Ageless is available from Desert Wastelands on CD and pro-tape. Get your copy now.