The Ouroboros — in ancient mythology, it’s often depicted as a serpent devouring its own tail. The iconic image symbolized the infinite cycle of life and death, and came to define the work of medieval alchemists forging together new life from cast-off materials.
For Grand Rapids metalcore band Vestigial, who uses the Ouroboros as its official logo, the symbol embodies the band’s resurgent sound, defiant experience and rising place within West Michigan’s immortal, if temporarily undead, heavy music scene.
“The name essentially means, ‘the remnants or formation of something that was once greater,’” Vestigial lead guitarist/backing vocalist Michael Stellema told Revue. “In this sense, (it) applies to our attempt to bring back an old-school sound with many modern twists. … Pure heavy metal from the past few generations modernized into a brand new sound.”
The riff-heavy band began back in spring 2016. Made up of Stellema and his older brother lead vocalist/rhythm guitarist Tyler Stellema, alongside bassist Joey Barnett and drummer Thomas Mercer, the band met through their shared friendships at Newaygo and Lakeview High Schools.
Taking influence from bands like Lamb of God, Parkway Drive, Killswitch Engage, Sylosis, Gojira and others, Vestigial self-released its first EP, The Void, last spring.
“The thing that made (the EP release) show so special was that all of the hard work we put into the event paid off tenfold,” Barnett said, recalling the chaos surrounding the disc’s release last year. “I’ve never heard a crowd cheer for us so loudly, and the energy in the room was surreal. People were flying everywhere and banging their heads, getting onstage and screaming our lyrics with us. Since then, we’ve grown so much and learned so many things that I can only imagine what The Pyramid Scheme will be like (when we return) on June 9.”
Written almost entirely by the Stellemas, The Void presented an early version of what Vestigial’s growing capabilities, and led directly into the creation of the new single, Shipwrecker, released last summer, and the band’s forthcoming full-length LP, Falling Skies, due out this month.
Working on Falling Skies last fall with recording engineer Lee Albrecht at his home studio in Grand Rapids, Vestigial finished the album in January and has signed on with management agency Nightfall Management ahead of its release.
Currently, Vestigial has plans to play at the Music Made Me Do It Fest in Stanton on July 15, and the Michigan Metal Fest in Battle Creek on Aug. 11. The band has new merch, new videos and additional tour dates in the works, and hopes to expand to the east side of the state for weekend shows soon.
“Our heavy music scene is starting to take off due to the hard work our bands are putting in,” Stellema said. “I believe (fellow Grand Rapids metalcore band) Sleep Waker is one band that is sort of leading our scene towards success with their own career, and with their members making up some key players in the art and video side of things in the city. Lee Albrecht has also given a lot to our community and jump started the current chapter of our scene with his production talents. I have a lot of faith in our city’s artistic talents.”
Fallen Skies Album Release Party
Wsg. Amoura, Mandayla, Recorruptor
The Pyramid Scheme
68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
June 9, 7 p.m., $10-12