Review Summary: Not *quite* better than White Pony.
On May 4th, 2010, a certain little alternative metal group called Deftones
released a certain little album called Diamond Eyes
. Heralded by many as their best album since the genre-defining White Pony
(which is a pretty damn big deal), it cast an overwhelmingly massive shadow over heavy mainstream music in 2010 that has even carried over into 2011. However, what comparably few people know is that another, similar band released a similar album later in that month of that year, on the 18th. This band, VESSL
, was (and still is) a very under-appreciated and very underground group (to my knowledge, this is the first real review of their debut). Combining the ethereal dreaminess of the aforementioned genre titans, the progressive aspects of Tool
, the catchiness of Chevelle
, and the epicness of Isis
is not an album that deserved to be completely passed over during the Diamond Eyes
frenzy. Sure, it was inevitable, but this band is one that warrants attention from the music-loving community. Its debut shows a remarkable amount of maturity for such a young group, holding its own against even the most powerful forces of alternative metal.
There really is no evidence here that Goddess
is the band’s first full-length: Sharpen Your Spine
, with its notably ethereal atmosphere sure to draw comparisons to Deftones
, sounds like a song that would show up on a Sirius station, while more progressive-oriented tracks like Azure
bring to mind a slightly more radio-friendly Tool
. Due to preexisting genre constraints, VESSL
is not a very instrumentally technical act: while the band’s collective songwriting ability is top-notch and the riffs here are catchy and sometimes impressive (guess what band they bring to mind?), there is no soloing and there is no double-bass insanity present here. Freed from the constricting chains of trying to impress with mindless instrumental wankery, VESSL
are free to focus on the one thing that makes Goddess
such a winner. The vocals here are, without a doubt, the most entrancing thing about the group’s music. Combining Chino Moreno-esque vibes (the screams, the occasional “off-key” voice cracks, the extremely breathy quiet sections) with some emotion-packed highs, they are what makes this album so beautifully ethereal. The best song here, Promise Lines
, is such an incredible and ethereal track because of its amazing vocal performance. While it surely does have some of the record’s catchiest riffs, some ridiculously slick bass lines, and beautiful loud-quiet dynamics, it would not be what it is without the angelic voice of vocalist and guitarist Charlie Berezansky (check out Tunnels
for another insane performance by Berezansky).
This album, while not being full of surprises from a musical and creative standpoint, is a huge surprise in and of itself. VESSL
pull everything on Goddess
off with a degree of proficiency that rivals today’s most acclaimed alternative metal acts and successfully meld a vast slew of influence to create one of 2010’s most incredibly mature-sounding debut albums, as well as one of its most overlooked albums. It’s a wonder that it has been over a year since this record’s release and VESSL
is not yet signed to a major label, for this is a band that could make incalculable waves in its scene. These boys only need the right “push” to send them careening down a path that will take them to places that so many bands can only dream of: one that VESSL
can realistically look towards and aspire to.