Taking Samples from Space with Vinnum Sabbathi

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Space-themed metal is nothing new, but as I found, there are still a lot of new ways to explore it.

The number of super talented instrumental bands across all metal genres is incomprehensible, yet maybe only a handful ever really stay in the spotlight for more than a week at a time. Albums drop, people like them, then they get forgotten amongst the piles of other great metal that comes out daily. I like instrumental music as much as any metalhead with prog roots, but please, I beg of you, do something (anything at all) to add a memorable thematic layer.

Vinnum Sabbathi, a four piece stoner doom band from Mexico, are doing just that on their first LP, Gravity Works. They take the Monolord-style of doom, dial the aggressiveness back just a little, and splice in recordings regarding gravity and space exploration.

“Imagine being weightless[…] swinging around the world once every ninety minutes. 17,500 miles per hour. 5 miles a second.”¹

While we might not know what weightlessness feels like physically, the droning guitar riffs and steady drum beat layered over the mechanical recording frees your mind to wander and float above its normal grounded existence, but not for long. Eventually, the fuel runs out and the state of suspension is revoked by a rapid descent brought on by one of the most aggressive riffs on the album. “Weightlessness” might be my favorite track, as it acts as a thesis statement for what is to come, all compacted in a nice five-minute package. The body of the work is made of longer songs that have some long droning rhythms breaking up the frantic fuzzy riffs, so I hope you have some patience and willingness to explore the great expanse.

“It is a vast emptiness, where all the laws of nature as we know them here on earth dissolve into a massive contradiction. Where everything that goes up does not come down. Where the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line². Where there is no beginning and no end .”

The second song speaks of bravery. The narrator describes the chaotic world outside of our atmosphere, a place where life is not welcome. The constants we take for granted are stripped away and the facts we have learned to love and rely on abandon us. Yet, a brave few are willing to test human ingenuity to become aliens in a foreign space. Just as the narrator finishes describing the effects of g-forces, a heavy riff sits on your chest and restricts your breathing. Vinnum Sabbathi uses the samples to guide the intensity and mood of each piece of the track.

The clip used in “Gravity Waves” is a little lower in the mix so it’s hard to make out entirely what is being said. With little context, it almost sounds like a systems check in a sci-fi space exploration film where something goes horrifically wrong (or transcendently right).

“Never before in human history had so many people in so many different places been so completely informed about a news event. Now the space program was accomplishing what war had always done before.”

The fourth song is all about moon landing hype. I can’t imagine living in a world so captivated by a positive force (even if the reason behind doing it was a little cold-war-y). Over 530 million people worldwide tuned in to watch the Apollo 11 mission, which made it the most-watched program to-date. The eerie track cheers us on as we vicariously watch launch preparation news clips. The bass-led riff inspires as much nervous trepidation as it does excitement. “So, come with us. We are going to the moon.”

“The Probe B”³ is focused on black holes and the collapse of the universe. It’s a little more ominous of a track until it speeds up at the halfway point to reveal one of the most addictive grooves on the album. It’s an energy-filled explosion that leaves us with:

“But then that will be it, it will be the collapse of the universe.”

In less than 45 minutes, you too can know what it feels like to be weightless. Head over to their Bandcamp page and buy this sucker for any price you’d like. Also give their FB page a like and ask them if there are any toilets in space.

Science Footnotes!

¹ The speed listed here is the required orbital velocity for a low earth orbit at about 200 km (the ISS has an apogee of about 400 km). Since the gravitational pull of the earth is still pretty strong here, the weightlessness that astronauts feel is not due to a lack of gravity, but because they are essentially in a continuous free fall.

²A straight line is only the shortest distance between two points in euclidian geometry (on a two-dimensional plane). However, when dealing with massive distances in space (or even just normal aviation), following the curvature of spacetime becomes the shortest path. Because the gravity of large bodies in space causes disturbances in spacetime, it gets funky really fast. General relativity is your friend here.

³The track name refers to a satellite that was launched in 2004 to test a few hypotheses of general relativity. The satellite was supposed to detect how much the presence of the earth warped spacetime, including how much the earth’s rotation affected it. In 2011, the data and resulting research confirmed Einstein’s predictions.

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  • Señor Jefe El Rosa

    I can’t wait to check this out!

    Outstanding review Mr. Stick! I especially like the scientific facts tacked on at the end. This album sounds right up my alley so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it thoroughly.

    • tigeraid

      Indeed. Interesting read.

    • Howard Dean
      • Joaquin Stick

        All Science Facts are brought to you today by: WIKIPEDIA, the number one source for not making me look like an idiot since ~2005!

    • DoYouThinkHeSaurus
      • CyberneticOrganism

        Hey we were saving that

    • Black Smallbeard

      Watchin DS9 thru again. Sisko is still no Picard

      • Señor Jefe El Rosa

        TAKE OFF!
        Sisko>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jeanluck

        • Black Smallbeard

          talk about a hot take

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            YOU’RE A HOT TAKE

          • Black Smallbeard

            😉

          • KyleJMcBride

            HOT TAKE: Capt. Janeway is Starfleet’s biggest fuckup. If Kirk, Picard, or Sisko had been there, Voyager would’ve lasted one episode.

          • Black Smallbeard

            I don’t think I’ve ever watched more than one or two episodes of Voyager anyway

          • KyleJMcBride

            I was fairly faithful for the 1st few seasons, mostly out of boredom, but I was never overly impressed by it.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            I don’t think that’s a hot take. I thought that was a well known fact.

          • KyleJMcBride

            Some people would see it differently. Voyager has a fairly devoted fan base.

          • Black Smallbeard

            lol womern captain

          • KyleJMcBride

            “Women are inferior. That’s why we pay them less.” – Carl I.
            Tasha Yar would’ve been a far better Captain than Janeway.

          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Them people’s r dum

          • KyleJMcBride
          • Señor Jefe El Rosa

            Will check

          • KyleJMcBride

            iz ok, nothing major. It’s just what I happened to be listening to at the time while browsing Bandcamp.

          • Óðinn

            Scott Bakula. What were they thinking?

          • KyleJMcBride

            I’m biased because I didn’t like Quantum Leap but yeah, Enterprise was pretty bad.

          • Óðinn

            It’s no your fault. Quantum Leap was objectively terrible.

          • KyleJMcBride

            You’re one of the few people that’s agreed with me about this. It was such a boring show.

          • Óðinn

            100% I agree with you. That show sucked.

          • KyleJMcBride

            I would sooner watch Golden Girls or Friends.
            (NOTE: Comment not meant to be a slight against Betty White or Bea Arthur)

      • KyleJMcBride

        Sisko has his moments and he’s a unique personality. I like him.
        However, Jean-Luc is THE MAN.

        • Óðinn

          It’s when Michael Dorn joins the cast that DS9 gets more interesting. That being said, DS9 did have a strong cast of characters on the whole. But yeah, I prefer Picard to Sisko.

          • KyleJMcBride

            The Dominion and Cardassian/Klingon War storylines were great. More Section 31 stories would’ve helped.

  • Howard Dean

    Clear Electric Wizard nod with the band name. Digging that first track so far. Nice pick me up on this Friday morning. Totally going to listen to Dopethrone today. Yep.

    “When you get into one of these groups, there’s only a couple of ways you can get out: One, is death; the other, is mental institutions.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbmiKvjk-Mg

  • Doc Torluv

    Great review! I’m digging this band a lot.

    One thing always seems to grate on me a bit with this post-y music, though: that goddamned noisy big crash cymbal throughout every quarter note in every heavy part of every song. Do no drummers opt for groove or dynamic in this genre? I’m not being a dick, I truly don’t understand it.

  • CyberneticOrganism
  • Mmmmm, good stuff m8! And I’m not even a yuge doom fan

  • KyleJMcBride

    It sounds like a heavier version of Mars Red Sky.

    • KyleJMcBride

      However, Mars Red Sky is not instrumental.

  • Eliza

    The concept of the album is interesting, and the music sounds good too. Fun fact, there exists a band unrelated to this one called Vinum Sabbathum. https://vinumsabbatum.bandcamp.com/album/apprehensions

    • Joaquin Stick

      I mean, it’s sorta still doom-ish? Usually not a fan of the old school organ-prog, but this isn’t terrible.

      • KyleJMcBride

        I’m a sucker for mellotrons.

        • Señor Jefe El Rosa

          I’m a sucker for the witch.

          • KyleJMcBride

            Clutch ref ftw.

      • Eliza

        I agree, you could do worse that these guys. Their sound scratches a very particular itch.

      • Dumpster Lung

        I’m a huge fan of that kinda thing. Glad I saw your comment 😛

        I’m liking this so far, but it’s not blowing me away in a huge way. Ooh, the chorus of this 2nd song is kinda grabbing me more than anything in the first song did. Maybe this one will be a grower.

  • Óðinn

    So apparently, because of the rise of white nationalism, the election of Donald Trump, and the disbelief in the scientific consensus over climate change within the Trump Administration, the doomsday clock is now almost at 2 minutes to midnight.

    Also, Russian intelligence agent, Sergei Mikhailov, was arrested in December by the Putin regime. He was dragged out of a meeting with a bag over his head, and has not been seen or heard from since. Subsequently, a high-level cybersecurity official with a private firm, Ruslan Stoyanov, was arrested on “suspicion of treason” for aiding a foreign government.

    https://youtu.be/7sXPmz9b4lM

  • Stockhausen

    I watched Sunshine for the first time the other day, this seems like a great accompaniment album.

    • KyleJMcBride

      I enjoyed it.

    • Dumpster Lung

      I think a lot of people felt this way, but I liked the slower first half or 2/3rds more than the end where things picked up more. It felt kinda like Event Horizon all of a sudden or something. It has been years though. I probably ought to re-watch it.

  • Waynecro

    Thanks for the excellent review/science lesson!