Violently jarring riffs, vicious vocals and a healthy dose of electronic dissonance shoved in your face. That’s only a few things to be expected in Vatican’s sophomore LP “Ultra”. The Savannah, Georgia 5-piece have put together 14 intensely diverse tracks that spans for a good 35 minutes. They’re hellbent on transporting you to a world that could be described as a mix between the chaos of Event Horizon and the cyber action that is The Matrix.
In the time between albums, the band brought a new vocalist into the mix, Mike Sugars. His animalistic growls will keep any listener in a vice grip, but his clean vocals have this smooth and gentle feel that provide a powerful contrast. Thematically, Sugars brought a number of heavy subjects to the foreground of the LP such as familial tensions, mental struggle and self-empowerment.
Vatican work in dichotomies. Influenced by the “f**k you” frankness of heavy hardcore, but with the technical leads of djent and progressive metal. Cynical of technology, but enamored with video games. Decidedly aggressive music that sounds deadly serious…but on an album that may have been named after a zero-sugar energy drink.
As they did on other recent efforts, the band still harken to the complexity of Meshuggah’s polyrhythms and the Dillinger Escape Plan’s technical abrasion, as well as Hatebreed and Turmoil’s more straightforward, metallic hardcore foundation – but there’s also Lovejoy’s electronics and Sugars’s clean singing, as on “By Your Love”, meshing inspirations spanning from Ø (Disambiguation)-era Underoath to Aphex Twin and even Linkin Park. “We try to put thinking man’s stuff in,” Lovejoy explains, regarding the more technical, or surprisingly softer or synthetic instants. “And then there are just absolutely visceral, brutal moments.”
Sonic Perspectives writer Josh Muncke took some time to chat with Sugars to elaborate on these subjects, as well as others. They dive into musical influences, touring after Covid, video games, and the recording process undertaken to create the gargantuan album that is “Ultra”. Check it out below.