NINETAIL – THE VULTURES ARE CIRCLING (Hand/Eye Records)

Submitted Mon, 03/11/2013 - 8:45am by Admin

York-based heavy metal force Ninetail has built their resume with their blend of scathing, brutal soundscapes and outspoken, in-your-face lyrics. The group ups the ante on their latest effort, The Vultures Are Circling. A theme album based around the Revolutionary War, The Vultures Are Circling studies the brutality of warfare, cast against a backdrop of anger and revulsion toward aristocracy and power gone awry. Ninetail sells this terse theme with an unrelenting barrage of jackhammer rhythms, swarming and fierce guitar riffs, and frontman Jay W. Heitmann’s maniacal roar. The title track, “The Vultures Are Circling,” cleverly sets up the album with its foreboding tone of impending war and bloodshed. “Gas Lamp Renegade” references Paul Revere’s nocturnal ride to spread “the viral word,” before “Loathness” & Obedience” ponders the loyalty issues colonists faced at this point in history. Blood is shed and casualties mount during “Give Back to the Worm” and “The March of Libitina,” and the ghosts of war are felt on “The Mist People.” Through the remaining tracks – “Waterloo,” “Entrusting the Sheep to the Wolves,” “The Iron Whore” and “Nine Steps to Nobody” – Ninetail cleverly positions the album to consider the issues at the root of the American revolution, while subtly pondering if history is about to repeat itself. The Vultures Are Circling is punishingly heavy, yet articulate with classical-inspired passages and instrumental detail; drummer Chris Appenzeller’s machine gun rhythms and Griff’s taut bass work set the rigid framework for Don Belch’s and Chris Evan’s snarling guitar chords and frenzied soloing, with Greg Weber’s key and sample fills providing accents and cementing the song settings. And while Heitmann howls with renewed ferocity, his words are clear and tempered with moments of sullen calm. The production and mix enable this album to go on the attack with all teeth bared, yet allows Ninetail’s intricacy and artistry to shine through. Cleverly weaving lessons from the past with foreboding about the future, Ninetail's The Vultures Are Circling amounts to a modern metal masterpiece, simply put. This is a must for fans of the metal arts, and an ear-opener for everyone else. (The CD can be obtained through the website www.darkhollerarts.com.)