Uganda’s best-known metal band Vale of Amonition has released its second full-length album Those of Tartarean Ancestry. Founded in 2009 by Victor Rosewrath (who is also the only constant in the band lineup over the years). They released their Curtain of Doom and the Broken Shield demo in 2010, featuring a raw, dark, progressive occult doom sound, of the traditional metal variety. Over the next three years, they would release six singles, two demos Under the Guise of the Vale: The Vickonomy Assault Demos and Vale of Amonition Presents…the Otheorem Demos, an EP Infernal Supremacy and finally their début full-length, Those of Metal Afar in 2013.
All of their work had been stylistically similar up to this point, maintaining a traditional doom backbone and mixing in copious amounts of progressive, experimental and even psychedelic elements. After three years of relative inactivity and lineup changes, in 2016 single Of a Painting Grim was released. The sound differed significantly from the earlier work. All the progressive and experimental elements had been purged, while the heaviness and melancholy of the music were taken up a notch or two. The production was more polished as well, mixed and produced by Kaymo in Kamore studios, Kenya. The track was also the first to feature Solomon Dust on guitar, who wrote most of the music and brought his own similar but different influences into the band’s sound. Two more tracks Monarch of the Pale Heavens and The Most of Merry Funerals have been posted on YouTube, and stylistically are very much in line with last year’s single. We were able to track down vocalist Victor Rosewrath to ask him some questions about the upcoming album, the Ugandan scene, and the past and future of the Vale.
So tell me a bit about the new Vale of Amonition album Those of Tartarean Ancestry. Is the style similar to Of a Painting Grim and Monarch of the Pale Heavens? If Of a Painting Grim and Monarch of the Pale Heavens are any indications of the direction of the band, it seems the Vale has shed all of its prog and psychedelic elements in favour of a more pure doom sound that borders on doom death at times. What were the factors behind this change?
The new album is indeed driven towards a more extreme sound…not necessarily Doom/Death but just extreme in general. It is still very much weird which I think is a qualitative definer for most of what our material is like. But I also think it is also more immediate with its darkness than past stuff which was a tad subtle about being dark. There were really no factors for this change. Evolving within the doom confines has been part and parcel of this band from the very start.
What does the title Those of Tartarean Ancestry represent, and what are some of the lyrical themes dealt with on the album?
Those of Tartarean Ancestry signifies a connection to the most extreme layer of darkness that can in all probable existences be established. Tartarus is the realm that’s beyond even Hades or Hell. A lot of the references to these things are mere symbolism because most of the lyricism is set to face the darkness we conjure within ourselves and in others.
Was the album recorded in Kenya and produced by Kaymore? Did he contribute drums again? He has done a great job with production so far.
Kaymo contributed drums and part of the album was recorded with him…the rest I recorded by myself with the spirits of the Vale and then brought it to him to mix.
So you are playing at the Nairobi Metal Fest this year, too. How did that come about? You also had initial plans to play a gig in Kenya before that.
For the Nairobi Metal Fest, we received an invitation from Rico Raw. We were supposed to play a gig organized by Neil Hueskillz who ended up playing bass on the festival with us so everything worked itself out.
Are you planning on playing more fests in Africa or elsewhere in the near future?
We are planning on playing more shows. I want to go to Ghana, Namibia and Mozambique real soon and more stuff in Kenya which has one of the best scenes in all of Africa.
As far as Uganda goes, I only know of Vale and Threatening. Is that all to the scene? Are you and Threatening inspiring any fellow Ugandans to pick up instruments and start new bands?
I really don’t know much about Threatening and what they are doing recently but I hope with all my heart they do something soon. There’s a band called Temple of Frost that’s beginning to blossom and I’m glad we were a sort of inspiration for that.
You’ve appeared on the début EPs by African Doomhammer and Reh, and served as vocalist for the international collaboration Doomcast. Are you involved in any other projects at the moment? Could we possibly hear something from your Victor’s Death project sometime in the near future?
Victor’s Death is what I am on about, now that the album is done but there’s no telling what may happen next. I am involved with a lot of bands still…including Doomcast, African Doomhammer and Reh whom I have already worked with. The rest is still too fragile to reveal details at this point.
Though Those of Tartarean Ancestry is only the second full-length, Vale of Amonition has released singles at a rapid rate with great consistency. Can we expect this trend to continue? I always look forward to a new track from the Vale.
I don’t know if that will continue because I am working more with other people while in the early Vale days, I was pretty much just writing and therefore stuff would come out often. These days it takes a bit more time because I have also become more particular about how I want songs to sound.
Do you think ToTA’s predecessor will continue in the same vein, or do you see the band veering in another direction?
The next album will be a complete departure and might take an even longer time to make. We just can’t make the same album twice. We’re not that kind of band. It will always be doom but it has to evolve and differ from what has been done before.
Where can fans buy your music online, so we can offer the links in this article?
Vale of Amonition are already a popular band on the African metal scene and have started to capture the interest of metalheads worldwide. Those of Tartarean Ancestry may very well be the album that secures their spot among the élite of modern doom metal.
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