Psst…hey dude. C’mere.
You like riffs? What am I saying? Of course you like riffs. I mean, why else would yo be hanging around here? How do you feel about crunchy 90s-style Swedeath riffs?
Yeah…you know what I’m talking about.
You down with d-beats, maybe a little bit of hardcore? How about skateboarding while blasting the fuck out of some old-school Slayer?
Dude…do I have a fucking band for you…
Loyal Vault Hunters, I’d like to introduce you to Scott Sommers (guitar/vocals) and Ryan Greaves (drums), the dudes behind Oakland-based Vacant Heaven. A couple of weeks ago the homies at Camo Pants Records sent me an email that basically said (and I’m paraphrasing here – Camo Pants is based in Scotland, so I doubt they talk like a middle-aged hesher) ‘Rad dudes, killer tunes, best promo pics ever. They’re self-releasing their first EP here soon – thought you might dig it.’
Oh, I fucking dig it all right. In fact, I don’t think I was even five minutes into The Reaper’s Nest before I’d emailed them back and said ‘Dude – this is hella sick! I was to stream something from it at the Vault.’
And here we are, ten days or so later – awesome promo pic immediately to the left, and killer tunes streaming below. What more could you possibly want on a Friday in May, except to maybe not be at work right now?
At five tracks and just over twenty minutes, Vacant Heaven don’t waste any time fucking around on The Reaper’s Nest. With the exception of a brief ambient intro on opening track “Unholy Grail,” the formula here is simple: riff, ravage, repeat. Fucking hell do they make the most of it, though. Are sledgehammer grooves a thing? They are now, because Vacant Heaven excel at luring listeners into that sweet, sweet mid-tempo crossover pocket and then knocking out their teeth.
The Reaper’s Nest will be available from Vacant Heaven’s Bandcamp page on May 25. Snag your preorder here, and then jam the fuck out to our exclusive stream. The aforementioned homies at Camo Pants Records were also cool enough to send us a brief Q&A with the band, which you can check out below.
Camo Pants: How did the two of you come to meet each other?
Scott Sommers: Skating. Berkeley Park. I saw this dude ripping in a sleeveless Slayer hoodie and I was like “fuck yeah, this guy is tiiiiight.”
Ryan Greaves: I saw his backside grinds and we just went from there. Hanging at the park you get to talking with people, and Scott and I often found ourselves nerding out on different metal and hardcore bands.
SS: After going off about riffs and records we loved, we decided to jam and it turned into a thing.
CP: What are some of the lyrical themes on The Reapers Nest,and what was the inspiration behind them?
SS: There was a conscious decision to try and combine the lyrical themes of different metal genres in an unconventional way. We wanted to mix the epic theatrics of metal with the political reality of crossover and punk. Often these two worlds collide in the realm of death, so that theme is covered from a few different angles (while weaving in political opinions and reflections on the world I live in). Some songs cover desensitization due to the constant stream of violence in entertainment, and society’s disconnection from the real cost of violence. Others are more about grappling with my own perceptions of death, and exploring how those perceptions correlate with proximity to death (in myself and others).
CP: As you are currently a two-piece, do you have any plans to add more members in the future?
RG: We’re gunna keep writing as a two-piece, and haven’t yet made any concrete decisions about adding members, though the thought has crossed our minds.
CP: Who are some of the influences that shaped the sound of Vacant Heaven?
SS: Iron Age, Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Pantera, Sepultura, Metallica, Nuclear Assault, Sacred Reich, War Hungry, Power Trip
RG: Armoured Angel, Madonna, Judas Priest, Kremlin, (Kim Ruzz-era) Mercyful Fate, Chris Coleman, Sacrilege, Edge of Sanity, Xentrix
CP: Maybe a bit early to ask this but what is the plan for a follow up and is there any chance of some live shows?
SS: I’m basically in a constant state of riffing and writing, so whether I like it or not I’m always going to be writing something. Excited to get this out there, and we’re hoping to do more in the future… a split would be rad!
RG: Live shows with this band would be so fun. We would need to add two members to do it properly, so there would be bit of prep work before this project would be ready for a live setting. But we’ve certainly been talking about it!