February 21, 2013

Vex - Memorious

Review by Andy Osborn.

A few months ago I took a trip to Austin, Texas. Although I was there with family, I naturally went search of what the live music capital of the world has to offer on the metal spectrum. The timing worked out so I was able to see High on Fire’s first show post-rehab, but I was more interested in what the locals were doing. Trad titans The Sword are known as the area’s heavyweights, but surely there were more gems to be discovered. I’m sure it was just a mix of poor timing and lack of research, but all that seemed to be on offer at the metal bars was watered-down Pantera worship and the horde of hardcore folk flocking to the Unearth gig.

I knew there had to be a darker, grittier underground scene in the Lone Star State’s music mecca – it is home, after all, to the revered Chaos in Tejas festival – but it wasn’t until the newest release from Vex that I discovered it. Although the band has been around in one form or another since 1998, 2010 saw Thanatopsi, their first full-length. And with sophomore effort Memorious, the band comes fully into their own without forgetting their sources of inspiration.

Vex isn’t shy about proclaiming their love for Primordial, an influence that shines through in both the songs and the band’s bios. Epic, story-like vocals provide the greatest similarity to the Celtic heroes, but the journeying and dynamic song paths provide an equally powerful homage. Through the 46-minute adventure the band wanders through so many styles; from thrash to melodeath to blackened prog, it’s hard to categorize the Texans as anything other than damn good extreme metal. Exciting natural drums add a freshness to the production that sets the record apart from the machine-gun execution that’s so common in modern recordings. Epic, melodic leads played with a satisfying crisp tone provide the backbone to the monumental tracks that are expansive and huge without the need to go into double digits, making Memorious an easily-digestible offering. And while I normal abhor instrumental filler tracks, Vex uses them as a comma in the tale rather than a full stop, bridging the proper songs without missing a step. It’s hard to highlight any one track, as picking apart pieces only detracts from the odyssey and doesn’t paint a full picture.

Multiple listens only reveal more intricacies, creating a massively satisfying experience. Pick up your favorite Greek myth, turn on Memorious and listen to what the new kings of Texan metal have shared with the world.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

  1. The Primordial comparison made me biased against this; the bland production lacking in low-end and the absence of compelling riffs finished the job. As for the drums, while they sound good, they don't really do anything interesting.

    I'll take Absu over these guys if we're talking Texan metal.

    1. Finally had time to give this a listen, and can't say I agree about the production lacking low-end. I hear a lot of thunderous bass playing accompanying those fine drums.

      Agree a little about the riffs, but imo Vex is more about the atmosphere and the melodies than the riffs.

  2. i happen to know "said drummer" he's one of the most versatile musicians i've met and his appreciateion for the overall theory of drums and mathematics have landed him gigs working with the likes of pat mastellatto and his work in bat castle is phenomenal....

    the absu comparrison isnt relevant as the style of musc is nowhere near the same...
    i love absus fast evil occult mythical metal....

    but vex is much more atmospheric and melodic as well as leaning much farther on the death metal side of things.. where absu seems to be more on the black metal side.

    i speak as an avid listener of BOTH groups

    1. I wasn't comparing Vex to Absu. Rather, I was addressing Andy's "new kings of Texan metal" line in the concluding paragraph.

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