Author: Gay For Gary Oldman
Album: Forward Without Motion
Label: Battleground Records
In 2004, the style known popularly as ‘Melodic Death Metal’ had jettisoned most of the ‘death metal’ quality of that style in favour of a kind of European take on American groove metal and metalcore. That year was also when Vehemence released their last album, Helping the World to See. A respectable follow-up to the fantastic God Was Created of 2002, Vehemence was making real death metal that was melodic. A mixture of brutal guttural low growls, infectious guitar melodies and harmonies, and a pounding rhythm with the spirit of OSDM and the polished riff construction of newer metal bands, Vehemence’s albums solidified them as one of my favourite bands to turn to when even the earliest Gothenburg releases were a little too melodic for my death metal.
More than a decade later, Vehemence come out swinging, sweeping and noodling on the first track of their new album Forward Without Motion. Opener I Don’t Want to Look Inside tells you all you need to know about the newly invigorated band. They’re here to shred your face off with riffs equally technical and melodic, but the vocals and rhythm section will anchor the music solidly in the ‘death’ camp of the prodigal genre.
If I was to overly-romanticise the bands sudden return, I would suggest that Horrendous’ recent success had been a siren song to the Arizona outfit. Both bands play death metal which focuses more on songwriting and melody than sheer brutality, and whilst Horrendous feature a more prominent OSDM vibe, definite similarities can be drawn between this release and the recent Anareta release by Horrendous.
Whilst Imagining The Loss is more conventional death metal fare, Murdered By The Earth ends with a near-heroic guitar solo, striking and rising again and again against a slowly increasing acoustic backdrop. By the end, the band has mixed the best parts of Judas Priest, Morbid Angel and In Flames into one song without skipping a beat.
But the band has not entirely ignored the past decade of metal. Jim The Prophet opens with a kind of djenty riff, but done tastefully, without feeling like a knockoff of the bludgeoned-to-death style, and it smoothly transitions into a kind of smooth prog-death riffing pattern more suggestive of Edge of Sanity. And I almost hate to say it, but the album highlight comes in the form of the ironically romantic acoustic guitar and lead passage towards the end of She Fucks Like She’s Alive. Yes, you read that correctly. Romantic.
To be completely honest, despite the well-deserved hype surrounding Horrendous, this record is my preferred in the genre of “melodic” death metal this year. There feels to be a bit more consistency, creativity and virtuoso to the guitar-work of Vehemence, plus I feel the vocals are much stronger. So if the aforementioned Anareta ranks highly in your end-of-year lists, I would suggest consideration of these returning champions to the style.
- Gay for Gary Oldman
Check them out here: https://vehemenceofficial.bandcamp.com/