Punishing, feedback-riddled sludge riffs and pummelling rhythms collide with dual vocal exorcisms on dystopian concept album Cast Of Static And Smoke, the captivating second LP by the self-described “weird queer kids with lofty ambitions” who play in Vile Creature. Recently married, the duo of Vic (drums, vocals) and KW (guitars, vocals) confirm they’re keen to “try advocate for the dispossessed – those marginalised and seen as inferior and weak”, while hammering out some of the heaviest, trawling tracks you’ll hear this year.
“We have our own experiences of oppression representative of our own identities as queer, non-binary persons,” Vic says. “However, I don’t want to be seen as victims with these life experiences under our belts. I think that people who have faced their own kind of oppression and lived it down are the strongest, most badass people. I can’t begin to express how many challenges are out there, and I’m reluctant to see LGBTQ+ issues as separate from colonial and capitalist violence.
“Being persecuted because of your sexuality is a horrible reality,” the Ontario-based drummer continues, “and I have experienced it on some level, but that is inherently connected to my identity as a woman and growing up in poverty. I think all our stories are important, and since we’ve been running in metal circles for the past few years, these issues have become interwoven in the fabric of our sub-cultural spaces. We need to do better. We need to be kinder, gentler and educate ourselves and each other. I am all for more queer representation in metal, but I think we should also be critical of the other barriers to inclusivity.”
It’s essential that more talented metal bands with erudite, progressive and tolerant viewpoints like Vile Creature are heard, especially given the increasingly conservative, often hate-filled state of play globally when it comes to race, sexuality and other sociopolitical matters. Do Vile Creature feel responsible to stand up against such archaic and dangerous ideologies? And what do they think metal as a subculture can do to decrease the rise in such thinking?
“That’s a great question!” says Vic. “We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but with more representation in a place like the metal community, it’s really awesome to be part of that conversation with other rad folks. We feel comfortable enough in our convictions to be outspoken when it is called for. It’s really important if you have the ability to speak up against dangerous ideologies and behaviour, to do so. Recognise your privileges and harness them for good. There’s a lot of power in representation, and we love to see more queer and trans folks and anti-fascists in metal, and in general just kind and caring people finding their way into music communities.”
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Vile Creature are also vegan – an increasingly prevalent trait amongst many young metal bands. How has this lifestyle choice impacted their existence?
“I’m sure a lot of readers are rolling their eyes by now!” Vic laughs. “We deeply care about liberation and being inter-sectional. As a feminist, how can I do genuine work dismantling systems of power and oppression, if I am going home at night and eating animals or their by-products? I thought it was important to reduce my cognitive dissonance so I could speak from a place of compassion when it came to love and liberation. Being vegan, though, doesn’t make you by default a perfect or good person. It is a process that you partake in every day to reduce suffering.”
Like so many couples these days, Vic and KW met “through the wonderful and terrifying world of online dating”, where they bonded over their mutual love of roller derby and music. At the time Vic was unable to play an instrument but KW, a multi-instrumentalist, taught her the swing of it and they began rehearsing together and those practise sessions turned into Vile Creature’s 2015 debut, Steady Descent Into The Soil. Their new album is much more advanced due to honed chemistry and increased technical ability. However, Vic states that the basis behind the band’s formation has not wavered.
“We still have the same perspective and intentions with our band when we first began – creating something that fellow queers and weirdos can find comfort in,” she says.
“Extreme metal has always been a haven for weirdos,” Vic notes perfectly. “I think the definition of ‘weirdo’ are those with identities that are kicked down most in society. If you want to be an ally, make space for others in your music communities and try to question why you might feel threatened and upset by ‘social justice warrior’ types.”
Cast Of Status And Smoke is out now via Dry Cough.
Meet the band taking sludge metal into mind-bending new territory