I should probably admit upfront that I don’t go way back with the St. Louis metal scene. I was just a hair too young for the shows at Turner’s & a hair too punk (or whatever) for the Landing. There was always metal that I liked, but I somehow never dove into that scene as hard as I dove into the punk & indie rock of the late 80’s/early 90’s that made me the man I am today (or whatever). I’ve easily seen more local metal in the past five years than the previous twenty, so, although I saw their name on flyers all the time, I never saw Vacant Grave, or even heard them until I picked up their 45 at a record show a couple years ago. It’s definitely a product of the late 80’s, & is perfect for it. The singer goes for that falsetto screech at the end of every line, & there are dive-bombing guitar solos galore. The credits list which guitarist is playing which solo, of course. The recording quality is pretty iffy, & I feel like the website I found claiming they sold 10,000 copies of this record might be exaggerating things a bit, but I’m super happy to own this, & would love to hear more of the St. Louis 80’s metal I foolishly missed out on.
Ominous doom-thudders Fister are a shining example of why I’m happy that I finally started going to local metal shows, & their newest release, a split 45 with Oregon band Norska, is a bite-sized intro into their world. They’re prone to pummeling a riff into submission for as long as it takes, but the time constraints of the 45 force them to tighten it up just slightly. They lock into the groove right away, screaming at the listener & punching him in the guts, but still manage to squeeze a little noodly bass solo in the middle there, a surprising dynamic lull before the howling roars back in. Norska’s side reminds me of a heavier Helmet, with that sort of tight-wound groove that makes you nervous, even while you’re nodding your head. I give this record 6 skulls (or whatever)!
Not from the 45, but some choice Vacant Grave action, nonetheless