- Dominick Fernow has made his most accomplished music as Vatican Shadow. It's more focused than his work as Prurient, and more immediate than his records as Rainforest Spiritual Enslavement. With Remember Your Black Day, his first full-length as Vatican Shadow, Fernow has begun to explore the true depths of the project.
The military aesthetic so prevalent in industrial music is often little more than a nudge-and-a-wink, but Fernow's exploration of these themes feels different. Yes, he appears live in military fatigues, but rather than valorising war, Remember Your Black Day seems intent on illuminating its repugnance. This reaches its pinnacle on "Contractor Corpses Hung Over The Euphrates River," whose title refers to the deaths of four Blackwater workers in Fallujah in 2004. It's the most immediately disturbing track on the album, and yet it's uncharacteristically harmonic, placing interlocking leads on leaden bass and shifting restlessly between chords.
Indeed, repetition remains Fernow's weapon of choice, and on Remember he uses it to bludgeoning effect. Tracks slot into rhythmic grooves from which they seldom deviate, built upon kick drum clatter ("Remember Your Black Day") or shuffling percussion set deep into the mix ("Jet Fumes Above The Reflecting Pool" or "Tonight Saddam Walks Amidst The Ruins"). On the ironically titled "Enter Paradise," a single guitar riff beds down against an explosive kick, the construction changing little across the album's most demonstrative six minutes.
Remember… sits proudly apart from Fernow's previous Vatican Shadow work, thanks in part to the newfound clarity of its palette, helped by Silent Servant's production assistance. The smothering reverb and distortion of Kneel Before Religious Icons has all but gone, as Fernow now approaches his music with scalpel-like precision. It feels as if the fug has cleared: the synths sound more lucid, the drums more tightly controlled.
But the most impressive part of Remember Your Black Day is Fernow's sense of economy. The record moves through a number of narrative passages, from calm-before-the-storm murk, through thundering conflict, and finally to post-atrocity rapprochement. All this he attains with minimal elements, each track entirely without ornamentation. Remember… feels cohesive in a way that has eluded Fernow through the rest of his work as Vatican Shadow, and signals a new frontier for the producer that's as promising as it is grim.
01. Circumstances Quickly Became Questioned
02. Tonight Saddam Walks Amidst Ruins
03. Muscle Hijacker Tribal Affiliation
04. Contractor Corpses Hung Over The Euphrates River
05. Enter Paradise
06. Remember Your Black Day
07. Not The Son Of Desert Storm, But The Child Of Chechnya
08. Jet Fumes Above The Reflecting Pool