For those of a certain vintage they can remember Vex Red from the early 2000’s when, with the help of Ross Robinson and a Kerrang competition they released their debut LP “Start with a Strong and Persistent Desire”.
For those of an even older vintage and geographical coincidence, they can remember them touting their excellent self produced EP “Sleep Does Nothing For You“ round the Aldershot, Farnborough and Guildford area, playing in pubs long since turned into fast food outlets and legendary art centres.
The scene also spawned Hundred Reasons and Reuben, fronted by Jamie Lenman, which took the grunge and metal sounds from the U.S and injected a British sense of humour and either a dance and samples element, an alternative bent or a pop punk edge.
The band went their separate ways in 2005 but ten years later they reappeared and in 2016 released their first new music in over a decade.
Tagged with the Emo label as they hit the scene off the back of Nu-metal as the likes of My Chemical Romance began their rise, the visceral nature of Terry Abbot’s lyrics and delivery was more intense and primal compared to their American peers.
Their debut singles on the Ross Robinson Virgin imprint, I Am, Itch and Can’t Smile were some of the most innovative alternative rock songs to come out of that period and now they’re back with a brand new EP, “Give Me The Dark” following a similar traverse, teetering on the precipice of dark cavernous industrial rock.
Stand out track, Air, has a Deftones feel about it, calm verse vocals, doom drop D guitar, minor chords but then it’s optimistic in the chorus, major bars, and it is pinnacle, epic Vex Red.
If you want to look at it as a negative, Vex Red haven’t changed much, they make you feel nostalgic, there hasn’t been a movement far from the sound they began with 20 years ago, especially the intro to the opener and lead single Tarantula, synthesiser keys of anticipation, it creeps up slowly and explodes like a horror film, you know its coming but the arachnid still snaps its fangs down on you.
Burning This Place was the early single those three years ago, and it is the most straight forward on the record, but still demonstrates their ability to layer huge riffs and hooks with Abbot’s accomplished, almost sweet vocals which haven’t aged a minute.
So I Can Sleep does have a Linkin Park feel to it, the echoing, distant drums as if they’re being played on concrete blocks with keys playing a simple melody before the heavy distorted guitars crash in.
Lake is gentle, a calm tranquil water, rippling quietly. Atmospheric piano compliments a ringing clean hook which begins to take off but never quite gets there.
They have been able to capture the original desire and freshness from the early days in the back room of a pub in Hampshire, and harness it in these 5 tracks. The break and reunion will have given space, the room for growth and a new beginning.