Never let it be said that Vomito Negro have mellowed with age. Now approaching four decades of activity, the Belgian industrial and EBM project helmed by Gin Devo have never strayed far from their tense, murky roots, remaining bellicose even at their most accessible and dancefloor friendly. Perhaps their latest LP Entitled is something of an acknowledgement of that history of antagonism; per the album’s liners, all eight tracks are newly recorded versions of unreleased 80s compositions, reconstituted by Gin Devo with the help of vintage synths and drum machines.
That sort of revisitation isn’t unique in Vomito Negro’s deep discography; one of the first releases undertaken by the project after a hiatus in the 2000s was the The 2K10 Remakes, a cleaned-up reworking of some of the band’s biggest songs from the preceding era. Still, there’s nothing specific to these songs that makes them seem more throwback than any of VN’s contemporary material. The simple-bass driven hypnotic grind of “Weak” and the frantic livewire synth and drum programming of “In Strikt Tempo” are fairly timeless, feeling like the could have hailed from any period in the band’s history, the clarity of recording and the mix notwithstanding. Indeed, Devo’s sneering vocals and the layers of reverb and synth noise that build out each track are Vomito Negro hallmarks, strangely comforting given their ominous tenor.
That formula is both Vomito Negro’s calling card, and their greatest strength. It’s hard to deny the power of the grating, rusty bass on “Black Point”, the clicky drums and serrated leads lashing out from the track’s monolithic center. Hell, even a nimbler number like the appropriately titled “Murk” where Devo engages in a more rhythmic vocal delivery has loads of menace and ire wedged between the notes of its sinewy synth bass. Sure it’s a bit unrelenting in terms of general misanthropy – the record begins with samples detailing accounts of unsupervised LSD trials and ends with electo-schock therapy to unconscious subjects – but by this point that’s become the band’s most singular quality, and Devo leans into it with belligerent gusto.
Don’t go into Entitled expecting it to change your perception of Vomito Negro or offer new wrinkles to their established sound. It’s a record that plays it by a very specific book, and one whose appeal is going to be very dependent on how low-down, gritty and generally unpleasant the listener likes their EBM. For those that favour the genre’s more inhospitable climes, it should offer enough pique and pall to satisfy.