I have to say that if you let your PR company send out a release that says you are unique and coin a new sub genre for you, you’d better brace yourself as some smartarse reviewer will tell you you’re not and ‘groovecore’ is not an unknown descriptor to them (but I read all kinds of shit…). Still, never let PR get in the way of a review: Vex are from the Black Forest and they play groovecore.
Well, throwaway classical themed intro aside, what that means is we have up tempo stoner metal with gang vocals and the odd hardcore style breakdown. Or in short as first track ‘Golden Times’ showcases in spades, Orange Goblin with mid period AFI hauled in on backing vocals. And yeah, it is pretty good stuff; catchy, gruff, ballsy, memorable and I have to say pretty darned commercial to boot. It has a bit more of the OG boogie about it than this stuff usually has, but that’s no bad thing. Ok ‘Apes’ pushes it too far into the shout-and-reply, all-the-band-jumping-in-the-air-in-unison, clean chorus brigade for me but, hey, it’s good for that kind of thing. The guys can play and they know what they’re about. Goes on a bit though.
AFI comes to mind again heavily on ‘Moments’, if AFI had gone more boogie metal than emo from their hardcore roots. I think it’s this stoner gone metal style which in the end pushes Vex to stand a little apart from this usual mainstream style. Sometimes it works, such as on the smile raising ‘Grandma’s Stories’ which has a little flick of Goatsnake running through its bluesy veins, other times (‘Put Up Evidence’) my mind wanders.
Then they drop ‘No One’s Calling Louder than Home’ which kinda goes High On Fire with the huge driving riff and for once the chorus and massed vocals really lift everything. This song is utterly magnificent. If you heard it live you’d bang your damned head so hard your brain would shake out. It’s so damned good you then want the rest of the album to sound like this. It’s like the band suddenly breaks free of its stylistic shackles and writes a goddamned stormer.
‘Till I’m Human Again’ the follow up ain’t half bad either. A rolling bit of modern metal with energy to spare and…well, fuck me I really ain’t built for this stuff generally but with a tiny flick of Southern Rock for about a second, hardcore breakdown and that metal riff boomeranging back this again would be awesome live. Closing with a nice callout with ‘For All The Ones Who Are With Us’ Vex leave me shockingly happy.
I mean this is pretty darned mainstream and commercial but proof that doesn’t mean it has to lack passion or identity. I’d boogie to this, no problem.
A couple of dodgy songs for me, a few good, three or four outstanding. Trust me, for me this is effusive praise for this kind of stuff. Give it a chance and it may well convert you too. And that, my friends, is truly shocking.
Well played gents. Well played.