Back in November 2021 Granite Wolf dropped a pair of singles in preparation for the release of their debut EP/mini-album but of course the obvious things hit the band so plans were put in hold but now, in 2022, they’ve wasted no time in getting the record out and so, through L’Islet Records, we can now enjoy Vanta Skies.
Lead single Death Calls Us Home is a thunderous welcome of driving, hardcore driven metal that sets the stage for six tracks of whiskey and beer soaked heaviness nicely. Frontman Tom ‘Shinfo’ Domaille sounds like he’s swallowed a handful of hot gravel as Mark Mercier and James Ogier’s guitars viciously swirl underneath and it’s over before it’s begun.
We then get the title track though that is disjointed, discordant and angular in the best of ways before an instrumental break brings to mind Slayer with some particularly diabolical guitar noises under the riffage along with with some immense headbang inspiring grooves.
El Toro continues the grooves with the rhythm section of Dan Garnham (drums) and Robert Domaille (bass) underpinning it all admirably while some gang vocals sections add singalong potential to proceedings.
Some atmospheric guitars and drums welcome the Ice Giant before it bulls to sound like a battle between Asgardians and the titular monsters (whether that was the original inspiration or not) and the instrumental break here provides a nice change of pace before it builds back up for more battering.
The collections second single, Better Man, introduces a more southern metal tinged feel and ups the riffs and grooves again (though they are present throughout) before Fat Rats tears out of the blocks like the proverbial rat up a drain pipe, with more great gang vocals and an instrumental section that is one of the highlights of the whole records making a great way to end the record that feels like it’s over just as it’s getting up to speed.
With hints of Slayer and Pantera as well as a good dose of High On Fire there’s a lot to like in Vanta Skies if thunderous heaviness is your thing.
The production from Mikey Ferbrache at Apocalypse Studios makes it all shine and, while it’s not subtle, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t want to be as Granite Wolf set the bar high for new releases from the islands in 2022.