Start With A Strong and Persistent Desire
almost never got a chance to start at all. Aldershot's Vex Red spent a couple of years playing Home Counties toilets for little praise and less money. Then, on the verge of throwing in the towel, they spotted an article announcing producer Ross Robinson needed bands for his new label, sent away a demo and, a matter of weeks later, found themselves signed up and working with Robinson himself.
You'd expect an album overseen by the producer of Korn, Slipknot and At The Drive-In to be hip and heavy, and Startâ¦ is most certainly that. Many of the tracks are, in fact, wildly inventive. In the opening "The Closest", singer Terry Abbott delivers a chilling murmur while a strange buzzing flits between speakers, as Dermo's soft vocal and piano are assaulted by guitars recalling Black Sabbath's Never Say Die period. The virulently anti-cannabis "Can't Smile" has you thinking of Gavin Rossdale singing for the Sisters Of Mercy, while "Cause And Solution" is a building storm of sweeping guitars and twisting electronica, a punchy ambient techno. Though "Bully Me" lacks a strong melody, and the all-out assault of "Itch" overwhelms Abbott's sensitive vocal, this is a remarkable production job and a strong debut that raises Vex Red above Brit rock peers like Crackout and Lostprophets. They'll go far. --Dominic Wills
Can the English Rock? 2002 may prove a good year to test this theory what with The Cooper Temple Clause, A, Hundred Reasons and Lost Prophets all trying to impress with debut albums this year.
But all too often the UK Music press turn their noses up disdainfully at homegrown product in favour of America's establishment; Linkin' Park, Papa Roach, Korn, even the appalling Andrew WK.
Personally when I listen to our American friends I don't feel any connection - all I can imagine is approx. 1 million kids singing along to boring rock anthems that are completely without meaning.
So is it time to redress the balance? Step forward, Vex Red. Maybe along with the aforementioned UK acts, it can happen. The story goes (if you've not heard it before) that Ross Robinson, the man responsible for Slipknot, Limp Bizkit and At the Drive In, signed the band on the strength of a crappy demo tape. Something that doesn't happen every day in Aldershot.
The album opens with the adrenalin-fuelled "The Closest" and "Dermo", two songs full of strong guitars and blistering electrical energy, but things really start to get interesting by track 3 - "Can't Smile" is pure quality; here vocalist Terry Abbott provides evidence to justify his job title, as opposed to the usual shouters who stand in front of most loud bands. Abbott varies his approach from soft delicate lyrics to contorted screams that never fail to hit the mark. There's more to come; there are the fabulous earth-shattering drums on Itch and roaring guitars on "Sleep does nothing for you".
Angst and disappointment are a couple of common themes throughout: 'Feeling all your pain, you know I feel the same' and 'you said you'd help me....' cries Abbott, the sound of desolation in his voice. What makes Vex Red rise above the competition is their ability to completely rock out but also be aware that you can have too much of a good thing; there are plenty of moments for you to catch your breath in between the guitar assaults. The excellent vocals sustain calm despite the raw power exerted by the rest of the band.
Ditch the stadium sound and check out the clean, pure rock of Vex Red. --Dan Tallis
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