Vital Spirit, featuring members of Wormwitch and Seer, ply an interesting “West”-inspired black metal on debut album, Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind (Vendetta / Hidden Tribe). Perhaps similar to Wayfarer or new-kids Dark Watcher, Kyle Tavares (Seer, Wormwitch) and Israel Langlais (Wormwitch) descend from their Vancouver forest cabins to lay claim to the stories and landscapes of the American West. Indeed, imagine if Dissection (or Dawn) had went down a Ennio Morricone rabbit hole (in the ’90s) and emerged horseback with pentagrams, six-shooters, and spurs. This might be hyperbolic on the surface, but it’s apropos of the subject matter and its purpose on Still as the Night, Cold as the Wind.
The premiere track, “Withering Fire,” is almost entirely Nordic in its 3-minute runtime. It runs along a expeditious trem harmony, while drums blast into the starlit sky. Vocally, Tavares caws night-ward, calling on old spirits for courage and the new God for savagery. Between the two celestial invocations are Vital Spirit’s melodic sensibilities, never too saccharine or awkward to drive their points home. Though Canadian in origin and West in inspiration, “Withering Fire” is readily European in delivery, and that’s not a bad thing, especially for folks into the worship of Sacramentum, Vinterland, and Mörk Gryning.
Says Tavares: “‘Withering Fire’ is written about the 1844 The Battle of Walker’s Creek, a somewhat minor skirmish between the Texas Rangers and Comanches with major consequences. Prior to Walker’s Creek, the Texans were at a disadvantage when it came to fighting on horseback. A mounted Comanche warrior could accurately shoot five or six arrows from his bow in the time it took a Ranger to dismount and reload his rifle — a necessary procedure as a Ranger firing his rifle or pistol from horseback was unlikely to hit anything. This fight marked the first time an entire company of Rangers used Colt revolvers in combat, weapons which could be fired while mounted with a frequency that nearly matched the Comanches. One Comanche who took part in the fight complained that the Rangers “had a shot for every finger on the hand.” The revolver caused a revolution on the Texas frontier, and the conflict swung in favor of the Rangers.”
By the Comanche Moon, we traverse Vital Spirit’s “Withering Fire.” Westward bound so shall we be…