Since I first discovered, and subsequently fell in love with, the California desert scene of the late 80s, I tend to associate or compare most music of the stoner rock and metal realm with this geographical region and the bands it gave birth to. Of equal value, however, is the Scandinavian and European take on the genre. If you haven’t acquainted yourself with the products of this area, you should. Whether its Norway, Sweden, or in the case of VAyL, Germany, these folks have absolutely nailed the distorted, aggressive, and groovy sound that epitomizes stoner rock.
Born of Berlin, post-apocalyptic stoner-metal band VAyl was initially founded in 2012. With Hagen Ohmstede on guitar and vocals, Ben Ohmstede on bass, and Tony Müller on drums, VAyL has committed itself to the DIY mentality. After the German label Setalight published their debut album The Circles End in 2013, they made the conscious split and recorded the Eclipse The Sun EP entirely on their own.
Released in October 2016, the Eclipse The Sun EP has no time for bullshit, and its long tracks range from heavy and repetitive metal riffs to indulgent solos, and then back again. As with most metal vocals, I am impartial to the growling and screaming such as those in tracks like “Welcome to the Badlands,” however the EP contains equal parts screaming, equal parts melodic singing with a charmingly faint accent, especially as in “Insomnia.” If you aren’t sure why exactly they call themselves “post-apocalyptic,” it takes only one listen to the lyrics in tracks like “Amnesia” to give you a good sense as to why. Evoking a sense of life or death, not just lyrically but instrumentally, Eclipse The Sun explores themes of humanity and mortality, maintaining an playful and assumptive air about the inherent impending doom of the world.
Opening with a heavily distorted and groovy bassline, the third track “Face to Face” is my favourite. Riddled with catchy hooks, it reminds me very much of early Soundgarden minus the high-pitched vocals of Chris Cornell – which isn’t always a bad thing.
If you’re into heavier rock, Eclipse The Sun has everything you could possibly want of an EP of its caliber. On top of everything else, it should also be said that the record production (which they did on their own) is perfectly aligned with their sound. These guys do good things for the DIY scene that, in my opinion, the world needs a hell of a lot more of. If you plan to be in Europe anytime this winter, track them down and check out on tour, and let me know how great it was to experience their energy and talent live.
Written by Jordan Hodgins
*edited by Kate Erickson