Vulvodynia – Praenuntius Infiniti Album Review

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Artist: Vulvodynia
Album: Praenuntius Infiniti
Release Date: 17 September 2021
Country: South Africa
City: Port Elizabeth/Durban
Genre: Deathcore/Brutal Death Metal/Slam
Label: Unique Leader Records

Duncan Bentley – Vocals
Luke Haarhoff – Guitar
Kris Xenopoulos – Guitar (Lead)
Lwandile Prusent – Guitar
Thomas Hughes – Drums
Chris Van Der Walt – Bass

When it comes to our local metal scene, international success is something that doesn’t come often, and,
if it does, it’s often short lived. This is not the case with Duncan Bentley and the boys in Vulvodynia who
have been serving up banger after banger album since the band first formed in 2014 and their
international fans love them as much as their local fans do. I, personally, have been following this band
since I first heard their song Pathogen X on an AMV (anime music video) made by YouTuber, atmentod,
for High School Of The Dead and when the Finis Omnium Ignoratium EP had just dropped, so, you can
imagine that when the band announced that this latest offering was an official sequel to the story of that
EP and that they would be bringing back some of the themes and musical elements from Finis into their
current sound, needless to say my excitement levels were through the roof.
Out of all their releases, Finis Omnium Ignoratium, is by far the band’s most overlooked and underrated
material. It is dark, heavy, brooding, and most of all, atmospheric which was a rather unique thing to hear
in either slam or deathcore at the time. That being said, did Peaenuntius Infiniti live up to the hype and
expectations that I and many others had placed on it? Well let’s dive in and find out.
First and foremost, I need to address the obvious. If you have heard any of the singles and seen the
music videos prior to the release of this record, you will already know that this album was not in any way
going to be a complete revisiting of the sound of Finis Omnium Ignoratium sound. If anything, this album
is a nice combination of everything the band have done since their inception while still bringing in a lot of
fresh, new ideas as a result of the many lineup changes they have had over the years since their
inception. So, what elements from Finis did the band bring back?
Well, the atmospheric element has definitely returned, although not in the sense of the more dark and
serious tone of the Finis EP. If anything, a lot of the atmospheric components on this record comes in the
form of a lot of synthwork that is very remiscent of the so-called ‘aliencore’ side of deathcore from bands
like Rings Of Saturn, Abiotic, and even early Aversions Crown. So you can expect a lot of the sci-fi horror
‘beeps and boops’ as it were throughout the album which gives the music that retro but campy vibe from
old horror movies featuring aliens and UFOs. This actually goes well with the blend of horror and comedy
that the band used on the two music videos for The Banquet Of Enigmatic Horrors Part 1 & 2 and you
can actually feel that Vulvodynia had a lot of fun experimenting more with their sound and pushing the

limits of what they are capable of.
The more progressive elements of the Finis songwriting have also returned along with some newer tech
death elements that were clearly inspired by groups like Archspire (of which the vocalist makes a guest
appearance), The Faceless, or Dying Fetus. Praenuntius Infiniti is not afraid to include some songs that
go over the four and five minute marks and when they do, it definitely carries a lot of the Finis style of
slams, riffwork, and song progression. Duncan also brings back some of the more insectoid sounding
gutturals from that EP as well which was wonderful to hear again after so many years and, despite the
more comedic and campy tone of some of the songs, added a layer of depth and still reminded you that
the music was still brutal in the same way that a Dethklok song would. Needless to say, the new tech
death elements really enhanced and improved a lot of the older Finis styled slams and breakdowns plus
guitarists Lwandile Prusent and Kris Xenopoulos simply took things to another level with their shredding
and solos. Since they have joined the band, Lwandile and Kris have taken Luke Haarhoff’s brutal slams
and breakdowns and given them an extra level of spice that has truly enhanced the band’s music overall.
As per usual, the drumming of Thomas Hughes deserves a lot of praise as this was by far his best
performance out of all the material that he has been involved with since joining the band and Chris Van
Der Valt’s bass work adds a lot of energy and groove to the overall heaviness and rythm of the songs.
Of course, how can I talk about this band without mentioning Duncan’s vocals? Duncan is one beast of a
vocalist and I’m sure I don’t actually need to tell people who are familar with this band since they are one
of the primary reasons many fall in love with this band. However, Duncan really outdoes himself by trying
new things with the flow of his vocals and even trying out narration passages during several interludes
tracks of the music. The narration passages gave off a very Carach Angren inspired feeling to them as
though Duncan were a demon or eldritch horror reading a terrifying bedtime story to a child and when
accompanied with the eeries synths and acoustic guitars, it only ramped up the creey factor even more.
Seriously if Duncan doesn’t get hired as a voice actor for cartoon, movie, or video game monsters after
this then Hollywood don’t know what they are missing out on. As mentioned earlier, Duncan brings the
‘insectoid’ gutturals back for a lot of the songs and his ability to seemlessly transition between black
metal highs screams, growls, and gutturals is nothing short of amazing. The guest vocalists also do a
fantastic job with the real standouts being Oliver Rae Aleron of Archspire and Jamie Graham of Viscera
among others, but, Duncan was the real star of the show for the majority of the album. There are also
some great backing vocals by guitarist, Lwandile Prusent, on certain tracks which adds a bit of texture
and dynamic to Duncan’s usual brand of filthy brutality.
The final thing I want to talk about with this album is it’s production. Now, pretty much all of Vulvodynia’s
material has good and solid production despite not having the backing of a major record label funding it.
However, Praenuntius Infiniti is by far Vuldoynia’s best and most clean sounding record to date. This is
due to the fact that they managed to get the legendary Christian Donaldson of Cryptopsy fame to mix,
master, and produce the album for them. The guitars are nice, chunky, and heavy, the drums pack an
audibly hard and powerful kick behind them and the bass tone is nice and twangy. Plus the synthwork
and orchestration all done by the one and only Misstiq and of course Malcolm Pugh of Inferi provides a
nice, soothing quality and contrast between all the chaos and brutality. All these elements combine into
what is arguably the best sounding metal album to have come out of South Africa and even if you aren’t
a fan of Vuldodynia is something you can at least be proud of and shows that if you work hard and work
smart, quality is always assured.
The only downside of this album is that is does feel a tad too long. Especially for an album in this
particular style and genre of metal. If it was something more akin to blackened deathcore or just straight
up doom metal where it’s hypnotic atmosphere draws you in and makes you lose all sense of time, then
perhaps I could understand and be a bit more forgiving of its 57 minute run time. But, overall, it doesn’t
affect the overall quality of the music. While I will say that the singles are the real standouts, there are
still plenty of other tracks that have a lot of strong moments to them that will definitely catch your
attention as it plays out.
With all that being said, Praenuntius Infiniti, despite its somewhat more campy and meme inspired tone,
is definitely a worthy successor to Finis Omnium Ignoratium and I do look forward to seeing Duncan and
the boys bring Praenuntius back for another crazy horror adventure later on down the line after Bob The
Butcher gets another turn in the spotlight. This album definitely slaps and it slaps real hard. So, if you are
new to Vulvodynia and you are new to slam, I do believe this is the best record to start with as it’s more
melodic and catchy elements will definitely get you hooked and will allow you to explore their earlier work
and the work of similar bands like Within Destruction or Ingested in no time. Go and listen to Praenuntius
Infiniti today!
Rating: 8/10

Review By: Russell Gainsford