North Jersey doom rockers Vessel of Light return with their fourth album in only three years: the Nomadic Eel Records debut, “Last Ride,” an Alice in Chains-inspired, Black Sabbath-saturated exploration of violent crime and lost innocence. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOMADIC EEL RECORDS
Do you love Alice in Chains? I do, and that’s why I like Vessel of Light so much, aside from the fact that the guitarist is my old Aquarian Weekly buddy Dan Lorenzo. Lucky for both of us that the doom-laden, vocally-rich Vessel of Light are great, as is their latest LP, “The Last Ride.” Marking their debut with the Cali indie Nomadic Eel Records, this fourth album may be their best and definitely is their most cohesive and refined.
A local supergroup, the coalesced lineup in addition to Dan of Non-Fiction and Hades includes Hades mate Jimmy Schulman on bass, Overkill drummer Ron Lipnicki, and co-founding Cleveland-based vocalist Nathan Opposition. Rife with production depth, vocal harmonies, monster riffs, and crazy creativity, the 10-tune collection opens with the masterfully morbid title track. The haunting “Last Ride” channels Layne Staley and Jerry Catrell to chronicle death, also perfectly depicted on the creepy album cover with a sparse wooden pauper’s coffin propped against a horse-drawn hearse.
The album continues to defy the band’s ironic name with dark, horror-influenced themes that often cathartically comment on societal evil, such as the next track, the Prong-meets-Slayer-like “Disappearing Pact.” “Torture King” and “Carving Station” are Sabbath-drippin’ doom served in a dungeon of sadism and a crypt of serial killing. Both dramatically explore the horrific delight of the criminal mind. The latter also explains the inspiration for the band’s name.
Fueled with a riff inspired by The Cars’ Elliot Easton and derived from The Cursed, Dan’s short-lived band with Overkill vocalist Bobby Blitz, Vessel of Light’s sinister-sounding Vincent Price-inspired second single is “There’s No Escape.” Most like Alice in Chains, the standout track flirts with a societal fear of, yet fascination with war, violent crime, especially serial killers, and the inevitability of death.
Death is in the title of two of subsequent tracks and referred to in another starting with “Web of Death,” about a decomposing mind that feeds on decomposing flesh, and concluding with the closing “The Death of Innocence,” a vocally strong plea for the dead to rise as musically, all hell breaks loose, and innocence dies at the hand of evil. Meanwhile, “Voices of the Dead” is a sad but fitting soundtrack to Halloween 2020, one of the deadliest years in modern history.
Continuing on a murderous tip, “Last Ride” also includes the menacing “Awaken in Dreams,” a nod to Freddie Kruger-inspired nightmares, and “In the Silence,” a super Sabbathy spook about silence being interrupted by screams.