Vanishing Kids return with “Spill The Dark”

The Madison metal band’s forthcoming album will be their first in five years.
Vanishing Kids, Left to Right: Jason Hartman, Jerry Sofran, Nikki Drohomyreky, and Nick Johnson.

The Madison metal band’s forthcoming album will be their first in five years.

A guitar’s low hum growls to life, faintly in the distance. Chimes swirl ornately around the hum as the guitar dips in and out of earshot, as if to signal something’s lurking out of reach. Two percussive hits act as warning shots before a sharp eruption of instruments dominates the mix. So goes the opening 15 seconds of Vanishing Kids’ latest single, “Spill The Dark.” The single is the lead-off track for their forthcoming album, Miracle Of Death, the psych-inflected doom band’s first since 2018’s Heavy Dreamer. It’s an auspicious, gripping opening to one of the most absorbing tracks in the band’s consistently impressive 16-year discography.

Vanishing Kids’ existing core trio of Nikki Drohomyreky (the band’s vocalist and keys player), Jason Hartman (guitar), and Jerry Sofran (bass) are joined on Miracle Of Death by Ossuary drummer Nick Johnson. Johnson’s fit in Vanishing Kids proves to be a natural one throughout “Spill The Dark,” as he effortlessly invokes an atmosphere of creeping dread through tense, patient playing. It’s a complementary piece to one of the central appeals of Vanishing Kids’ past work: emotional resonance. Often, that trait has been most underscored by Drohomyreky’s held, belted notes of impassioned longing. Here, it’s heightened by all of the members’ work. Vanishing Kids’  distinct, near-romanticized brand of earnest mystique is back in full swing.

“Spill The Dark”—and Miracle Of Death as a whole—was mixed by legendary producer Randall Dunn, a sterling testament to the band’s ambition as well as the level of respect they’ve rightfully earned. Dunn’s intuition and utility is evidenced in the song’s intensely calculated opening swells, and again in the presentation of the aching (and lightly foreboding) string arrangement that serves as the song’s ending. And the material the band has given him to work with between those two points is equally sublime. From Hartman’s searing, gnarled guitar figures to Drohomyreky’s lush, ambient keys, to an overarching lyrical narrative that expounds on momentous turbulence, “Spill The Dark” gifts listeners a bevy of well-calibrated aspects that reward scrutiny.

“Something in the dark” is an eerily disquieting lyrical hook, but one whose meaning is malleable enough to survive various interpretations, as it tells the song’s protagonist(s) to “wait” and “stay away.” Whether that “something” is an entity serving as a bridge to the afterlife, one that’s more in line with cosmic horror, or a metaphorical stand-in for depression, anxiety, or uncertainty may be up to the listener. Any way it’s spun, the core effect is an unnerving one, and that sense of lingering unease never wavers throughout the track’s runtime, which scrapes up against the seven-minute mark. The closest thing listeners get to a reprieve comes at the song’s three quarter point, when Hartman tears into a blindingly beautiful solo that immediately registers as one of his best.

By the time the darkly melancholic orchestral section winds “Spill The Dark” to a close, Vanishing Kids have made sure to leave their mark. Miracle Of Death‘s first single is more than enough to warrant an uptick in excitement for the album’s release. Vanishing Kids are back, in a big way, and Madison’s music landscape is better for it.

Miracle Of Death will be released on October 13 via Aural Music. Pre-orders are available now through Vanishing Kids’ Bandcamp. Vanishing Kids’ only announced show at the moment is at The Bur Oak on December 2 with Poison Widow and Ruin Dweller. Circle your calendar.

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