Listen to the Scathing Social Commentary of Detroit Deathgaze Duo Vazum’s “Western Violence” LP

The vasum snail, a fascinating predator in the marine world, prowls the tropical and subtropical waters with tactical elegance. It wields its radula, a finely-honed tooth-like structure, to snare and devour prey, primarily other mollusks and small marine creatures. This snail’s predatory instincts are crucial, maintaining ecological balance and weaving itself into the marine food web.

Inspired by this tenacious creature, Detroit’s VAZUM, formed by Zach Pliska and Emily Sturm, brings a similar intensity to their craft. From their Light Echo Studio, they’ve produced a series of albums and music videos, forging a path with their unique “deathgaze” sound. Their commitment to their art has earned them a devoted following, drawn to their distinctive style and bold aesthetic.

Today, the duo released a scorching new album, Western Violence, which draws inspiration from their experiences touring the Southern US, the UK, and France. This album as a whole is a raw, unflinching commentary on some of society’s darkest corners.

The title track, Western Violence, strikes hard, painting a stark portrait of drug addiction’s grim reality. It delves into the scourge of various substances and the fatal grip of overdoses. With pointed criticism, they take aim at the powerful pharmaceutical companies and the unchecked violence that firearms propagate.

Breach depicts a dystopian world where individuals are erased and subjugated by an oppressive regime fueled by automation and artificial intelligence. Emotions and humanity are rendered obsolete, with technology exerting control through manipulation, mind control, and alternate realities. Amid this bleak landscape, a resilient inner force resists, but the dominant theme is systematic cleansing, indefinite imprisonment, and pervasive hostility, highlighting the inescapable conflict between the organic and the mechanized.

Alien explores themes of existentialism and human insignificance, contrasting our earthly struggles with the vastness of space. They critique social inequality, highlighting the suffering of others while some indulge. The idea of being “aliens” underscores a sense of disconnection and the hope for a place without borders or divisions. Following that is Embryo, which addresses themes of control and manipulation by powerful entities, stripping individuals of free will and autonomy. They highlight the invasive surveillance and exploitation, reducing people to mere commodities.

The loss of innocence and purity takes center stage in Get Out, highlighting a world tainted by curses and deceit. It rejects manipulative drama and insincere pleas for money, emphasizing self-reliance and a refusal to give in to guilt. Stellium evokes a sense of inevitable demise, likening people to drained, pale porcelain dolls caught in a dark, relentless current.

The band melds the spectral grace of the Cocteau Twins with the buoyant New Wave energy of the Go-Gos and Blondie, all while channeling the raw essence of 45 Grave and Christian Death in Blush. Sturm’s vocals, ethereal yet poignant, intertwine with the rhythm, casting an iridescent sheen over their dynamic tableau.

Done expresses a disillusionment with striving to do right and the misguided advice from elders. The contemplation of giving one’s all contrasts with the realization that righteousness alone isn’t enough, leading to a deliberate separation. Acteur paints a portrait of deceit and falseness. It critiques the superficiality of chasing thrills and fame, emphasizing the toll it takes.

The album closes with Exile, rejecting servitude and the marginalization for having a dissenting viewpoint. They describe the oppressors as egotistical trolls, reveling in their fragile thrones of shallow pleasures.

Listen to Western Violence below, and order the album here.

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Alice Teeple

Alice Teeple is a photographer, multidisciplinary artist, and writer. She is not in Tin Machine.

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