ALBUM REVIEW: Vexed – ‘Negative Energy’

Artwork for Vexed’s ‘Negative Energy’

Alt-metal trio Vexed following up their impressive debut Culling Culture with an even heavier and commanding full-length. Vexed are growing as a band and it’s fantastic to see them becoming more confident, showcasing their dynamic identity through each release. The new album Negative Energy is raw, dark, and more haunting than anything they’ve done before.

PTSD opens the album on a foreboding, disquieting note. The thundering guitars, eerie voice over and discharging turbulent emotions, make for a thrilling intro that insights a cautious curiosity. Anti-Fetish kicks off the album in full force with delightfully heavier instrumentation, dissonant melodies and Megan Targett’s fierce vocal performances. The brutality of the sound conveys a multitude of feelings and ideas that carries a deeply personal aspect, while presented in an incredibly highly polished product. The high-quality production enhances the impact of the outfit’s songwriting and arrangement, and the album’s intense thematic nature.

The poignant lyrics of We don’t talk about it, notably “We don’t talk about it, suppress it, forget it”, carry a significant weight of an uncomfortable situation which many, unfortunately, can often relate to. Metal, and music more generally, has been more than widely discussed in respect to catharsis but there is something particularly powerful at Vexed’s honest, gloomy and uncensored approach. Fading into life with an ominous effect, X my <3 (Hope to die) bursts through with heavy instrumentation and sees frantic clean vocals clashing with aggressive harsh. Combined with a fast pace, it leads to anxious, heightened sense of unease. Adding in further interest into the track is the use of clicks, eerie synths and sharp intakes of breath.

Lay down your flowers (featuring Alpha Wolf vocalist Lochie Keogh), brings a thrilling combination of thundering staccato stabs and electronics. Intricate riffs spice up the rhythmic chorus, which is another example of Vexed’s ability to add a catchiness to the vocal lines of their more dark and heavy songs. Before the epic breakdown hits and concludes the track, an eerie yet almost serene section breaks up the wall of distortion, before it returns even more enraged. Drawing from The Wizard Of Oz, There’s no place like home introduces more technical guitars accompanied with demonic vocals and dissonant chord progressions. The groove fuelled chorus, prog elements and djent style chords all dispel the emerald gleam of this fairytale. When Extremist begins, there is no stopping for breath. Ludicrously fast, with multiple erratic instrumental parts creating chaos, the track suddenly slows bringing a dominating force of heaviness.

Unleashing furious percussion in its heavy greeting, Trauma Euphoria takes dynamic twist and turns through the light and the dark.Megan’s soaring chorus cleans above entwining guitar leads aptly transport to a place of euphoria before being brought abruptly back down to Earth. This track leads on fittingly to the emotional It’s not the end. Beginning with clean and softer instrumentation the contrast of the hard-hitting heavy is only made greater. Blending two opposing moods makes for an intriguing sound that delivers both earth-shattering power and a tranquil feature. It’s a deeply personal connection to the aftermath of losing a loved one and keeping their legacy alive. DMT provides an interlude before the arrival of the final event. Shimmering guitar tones, lo-fi beats and spoken word snippets continue aspects of It’s not the end while also bridging to the gap into the next part of the album, preparing for its arrival. Nepotism marks the grand finale containing Vexed’s characteristic trap cymbals and beats. It’s only a matter of time before exploding into heavy riffs, thundering percussion and unyielding harsh vocals. Nepotism is one last burst of rage, concluding Negative Energy with an epic breakdown.

Vexed have produced a brutal and yet heart wrenching offering in Negative Energy. In an onslaught of metal, aggression and fury, Vexed are laid bare and yet empowered. There is power and vulnerability that runs through the tracks that feels authentic and relatable, acknowledging openly the shadows and real-life monsters frequently encountered in life and yet often ignored and hidden away. Vexed have pushed themselves further musically and thematically to create a truly poignant, monumental album.

For fans of: Loathe, Jinjer, Spiritbox

‘Negative Energy’ by Vexed is released on 23rd June on Napalm Records.

Words by Holly Royle

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