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Holy fuck, melodeath that doesn't blow. - 96%

Stillborn Machine, March 21st, 2014

Melodic death metal is primarily a joke in underground metal circles, but with the recent resurgence of both classic heavy and death metal we may see more bands like Vex, that actually live up to its name. Avoiding the "Painkiller with harsh vocals" syndrome that has stillborn the majority of the sub-genre, they use the elongated tremolo lead-harmonies of acts such as classic Dissection and Eucharist as the meat of their songs. Like on their excellent 2010 debut, Thanatopsis, meatier chords help to stabilize these elegant streams of distinctly Scandinavian melody, but they've expanded their armory, using a wider range of techniques for a subsequently more expansive compositional approach. Wistful and ghost-like lead forays in a semi-Primordial-esque folk style, floatier and slightly jazz- influenced drumming, progressive rock style technical sections, and even clean vocals appear.

Whereas most bands however simply dress up dull or stylistically confused music in as many cosmetics to hide artistic deficiency, Vex stomp the competition through an acute sense of knowing each one strategically within the greater over-arching thematic structure of a song, whether to modulate motion or emphasize particularly evocative climaxes within their lush compositions. Songs have less linear structure than on the debut. Sections of soaring power transition into recursive divergences from a central theme, re-contextualizing ideas before their explosive rebirth. This gives the music a very sentimental feel as it alternates between raw exultation and careful moderation, but it's the sentiments one would feel if, say, crossing a vast region of untouched wilderness rather than the wishy-washy feebleness of the "indie metal" movement.

Its only weakness is perhaps the "cleanly raw" production with its incredibly loud drumming, somewhat gritted guitar work, and thick bass. If you can learn to look past or enjoy it, this is both a band genuinely maturing and a new voice for a mostly dead style.