Released: 2017, STB Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
“Do you really need a goddamned savoir? Do you really want a bad drug dealer?” Seems like a valid enough question, or at least it does to Seattle stoner doom trio Wounded Giant. Their sophomore full length VAE VICTIS proves to be a bit of a left turn from the more straightforward inclinations of their 2013 LIGHTNING MEDICINE debut, but the sights you experience on that detour make for a totally worthwhile listen.
Listening to VAE VICTIS, I found myself thinking “this is what it would sound like if the Melvins covered Electric Wizard while tripping balls on Hawkind’s SPACE RITUAL.” The core of the band’s sound is still firmly anchored in fuzzy Sabbath certified mammoth sludge, but the punchy riffs and general cadence of the tunes aren’t all that far removed from the more accessible end of Seattle’s heavy spectrum – think Tad, Gruntruck, HOUDINI-era Melvins, etc. And at the same time, tunes like the title track and “Dysthiest” parallel that accessibility with the noisy discomfort of bands like Cough and Burning Witch.
And then you’ve got brilliant bizzaro gems like the tent revival organ grind of “Emmanentize the Eschaton”, the melancholy psychedelic drone of “Green Scar” and the prog-heavy Hammond roiling of “Room of the Torch”. These excursions are equally as satisfying as the more direct moments on the album, but for completely different reasons. It’s a delicate balance between full blown cosmic exploration and concise, memorable, almost radio ready passages. Well, college radio ready…maybe.
Words like “fresh” and “different” don’t generally come up often when discussing stoner bands; you tend to accept it for what it is and that’s why you love it. But when you do come across a record that makes you think “hey, this is a fresh spin on the familiar” or “this is different, but still really, really good”, it’s usually a pretty special event – kind of like running into Sasquatch at a 7-11 at 2 in the morning. With VAE VICTIS, Wounded Giant have served up just such a late night Sasquatch.