Review Summary: don't mess with VNV Nation.
Hailing under the overlooked genre of futurepop, which they themselves created, VNV Nation has never failed in making great music. They were a veteran band from the start, and in their entire discography, there has never been a weak album. However, they sure have standout albums, and Matter + Form is one of them. The tense atmosphere that VNV Nation creates in Matter + Form seems like the soundtrack to a claustrophobic crawl through a suffocating cavern. Through cracks of massive boulders, rays of sunshine may occasionally poke through and hold the squinting man in warm embrace, but the pit is still dark – the darkness still smothers. Songs with straightforward melodies are barely visible in this body of music, so when the gorgeous ‘Perpetual’ ascends, it seems like a defining moment in one’s life. Everything at once vividly comes to life, and it is a beautiful feeling.
In the land where the music plays, it is immediately known from the ‘Intro’ that all is not well. Starting in a windy setting, ‘Chrome’ ignores the quiet storm and proceeds to blast the eardrums with an unforgiving beat and ominous synthesizers. Throughout all this, the lead singer sings depressive but encouraging lyrics, knowing the state the world is in, and responding with the call to rise. Then, as if in response, the joyful ‘Arena’ bursts in with infectious electronics, and the second best chorus of the album. Predictably, as soon as the joy of ‘Arena’ ends, the depression starts all over again. It starts off quietly with wonderfully minimal piano and strings (‘Colours of Rain), and then proceeds to shock with ‘Strata’, ‘Interceptor’, and ‘Entropy’. After these tracks, the album finally and completely breaks through its constant depression – the sun rises.
When ‘Endless Skies’ is reached, the soundscape becomes stunningly beautiful. Followed by ‘Homeward’, the moment of beauty increases in scale and magnitude to the point where tears are provoked. However, at the end of ‘Homeward’ the band seems to realize that they need to get the audience moving, and in response, they provide the danceable ‘Lightwave’. Finally, to conclude the music experience, VNV Nation ends with one of their best songs, ‘Perpetual’ – the perfect ending to a stunning album.
- Endless Skies