Vexes
Imagine What We Could Destroy / If Only Given Time


5.0
classic

Review

by Teal USER (13 Reviews)
June 17th, 2022 | 94 replies


Release Date: 06/17/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Destroying expectations.

For a band with the humble stature of Vexes, releasing a double album as a sophomore release is one hell of a risk. Four years removed from their debut ten track offering Ancient Geometry, this quartet hailing from New Jersey have returned with twenty-four(!) new songs which unite to create the colossal Imagine What We Could Destroy /// If Only Given Time. Instead of attempting to carefully navigate around a potential sophomore slump, Vexes have decided to literally double-down on themselves – and quite frankly, the results are stunning.

For those unfamiliar, Vexes play a personally perfect variant of alternative metal - too cerebral and deliberate for fans of straightforward, mouth foaming barnburners and yet too fierce and caustic for those who recoil at impassioned screaming and bursts of sonic aggression. Vexes fall somewhere between Vheissu-era Thrice and post-Diamond Eyes Deftones on a musical spectrum, but with plenty more to offer. While not a concept album, IWWCD///IOGT loosely explores the nearly universal struggle of maintaining genuine human connection while most of society wrestles and chokes swimming upstream against a current of pervasive social media tactics and a consciousness that continues to grow increasingly digital.

Following the brief introduction of “Digital Trust”, IWWCD///IOGT opens with first single, “Beyond the Sinking”, which exemplifies nearly every strength of the quartet’s songwriting. After unfurling with an unsettlingly sparse verse, the riffs from guitarist John Klagholz and singer/guitarist Charlie Berezansky begin to subtly churn and grind, ratcheting up the drama over time. Just as the stress hits a fever pitch, the chorus explodes into a mix of desperate vocals and those aforementioned snarling riffs before everything comes to hushed crawl during the bridge. Suddenly, Berezansky’s tenor is nearly left alone to glide above bassist Bobby Carpenter’s low end puttering away in the background, ultimately foreshadowing an oncoming assault seconds later. “Beyond the Sinking” is the first hint to expect the unexpected over the course of IWWCD///IOGT.

Over the course of these first three songs, frontman Charlie Berezansky’s vocals are immediately notable and seemingly contradict as they float above ever shifting dynamics and unorthodox chord progressions - his crooning is delicate, yet powerful. Smooth, yet gritty. Berezansky’s vocal work across IWWCD///IOGT elevates these pieces to a higher level via the employment of unpredictable vocal melodies that both build tension and linger in the ear. One second, he’s serenading, the next second he’s shredding his throat.

Nowhere are these vocal acrobatics on display more than the, well, apocalyptic “E.O.T.W.”, which marries spastic, partially-screamed verses with an urgent chorus that builds and builds in intensity until the song inevitably collapses under its own emotional weight. Album centerpiece “Gather Your Bones” is an eight-minute brooding dream showcasing Berezansky’s soaring tenor floating above driving guitars, captivating listeners in the same way “Rosemary” did when Deftones fans first gave Koi No Yokan a spin. Second single “Low Choices” alternates between angsty riffs and one of the catchiest refrains listeners are likely to hear this year when Berezansky implores, “I only want you to know/This one thing/There’s no one here to wish you farewell/So save all your tears/And wave goodbye/They only know the worst of you”. “Low Choices” – along with “The Symptoms of Dying” and “Bleak Machine” capture a more accessible and melodic side of Vexes that could generate radio play in a just music industry.

Nearly every piece on IWWCD///IOGT is deserving of recognition as Vexes employ songwriting trick after songwriting trick to give every song a unique voice and standout moment. “Twisting of the Points” settles on a groovy bassline by Carpenter only to conclude with a Devin Townsend-esque wall of sound. An explosion of face-melting screaming and barely controlled riffing highlights the unexpected detonation of “Inexerol”. “Energy Vampire(s)” utilizes synths in the background to create an oppressive, sinister atmosphere that make Berezansky’s tortured scream in the bridge even more convincing. Hell, the band even throws the closest thing to a ballad here at listeners in the form of “At Nothing” which features a stripped-down performance of Berezansky emoting over moody synths and light drumming. On IWWCD///IOGT there really is something memorable for every listener.

As one might fear, track sequencing over a 24-song release is crucial. Fortunately, Vexes have carefully and thoughtfully constructed the tracklist, not only grouping songs of different musical temperaments together to create a consistently varied listen in terms of balancing tranquility and terror, but also having the awareness to insert electronic interludes at numerous points between clusters of songs to allow listeners to catch a breath at certain moments. Furthermore, each batch of songs conclude with a pensive instrumental named after their respective half of the double album. It’s too early to determine if listeners will be able to tolerate every single intermission as they appear over the course of these two hours, but the instrumentals serve to weave the tracklist together conceptually while allowing each song to breathe without any respite overstaying their welcome.

Despite injecting more hyperbole and praise in this review than a North Korean propaganda script, one could argue IWWCD///IOGT is a high-water mark for modern alternative metal. Simply put, Vexes are a criminally underrated group of talented musicians and songwriters firing on all cylinders. There’s so much more that could, and should, be said about the twenty-four pieces of music on offer here. Unfortunately, trying to articulate the depth, power, and emotional weight behind IWWCD///IOGT is ultimately a fool’s errand. Thus, as Hans Christian Andersen says, “Where words fail, music speaks.” With that quote in mind, music fans should listen to what Vexes have to say across these spell-binding two hours regardless of expectations because, well, imagine what Vexes could destroy if only given time.



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user ratings (58)
4
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

This double album hit me like a ton of bricks. Easily my frontrunner for AOTY. I hope Vexes begin to receive the attention they deserve and everyone finds something to enjoy from this release. Thank you for reading.

Purpl3Spartan
June 17th 2022


4090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bruh do you live in Europe or something or did you listen to this album at 4x speed

Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The band gave me an advance copy a month ago for my little unknown blog site.

Purpl3Spartan
June 17th 2022


4090 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

oh sick! review is great btw

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2022


3468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review! currently going through this right now and digging it a lot

Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Thank you, guys. I'm really excited for everyone to hear this. Doubt it's on many radars - yet.

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2022


3468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I honestly forgot it released today, I knew it was this month but lost track lol

I enjoyed Ancient Geometry a fair bit, but the singles were showing a ton of promise for something greater

Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Amen. I think this easily beats AG comparatively. It's insane to see a band go big and actually hit it - especially on a sophomore release. There's too many good songs to cover in a review. Didn't even get to mention "Invisible Shine" or "Away Stars" which are up there with some of my favorites from the release. That's okay though, more surprises for anyone willing to listen.

tyman128
Contributing Reviewer
June 17th 2022


3468 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Inexerol" is a huge standout for me so far, really digging the instrumentation and that chorus is freakin great

cvlts
June 17th 2022


9848 Comments


currently diving into this right now but it's absurd that these guys remain unsigned

Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I know, right? I can't even comprehend it. Props to them for doing everything in-house. Makes it even more impressive, really.

GmemberKills
June 17th 2022


4010 Comments


Nice review! I thought the highlights from their debut were so good. I was a little hesitant about this being a double album, but i'm glad to see it delivers. Due to usually being strapped on time I'll probably end up jamming this in halves, but i'm really looking forward to it.

also i gotta ask are there any weird random rap features this time around lol?

Slex
June 17th 2022


14045 Comments


Holy shit, interest piqued

And, good review bud

Digging: Conjurer (UK) - Pathos

Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Gmember: I know a double album can be intimidating. Fortunately, this is a release where you can start it up anywhere in the tracklist and be satisfied. So just take it in at your own pace. No, there are no features on this album at all.



Thanks, Slex!

bananatossing
June 17th 2022


1964 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, man. Definitely checking this out.

DDDeftoneDDD
June 17th 2022


20496 Comments


Double album...damn waring off

It's a grenade with a long timer I see

Digging: Isvara - The Eye of God

Teal
June 17th 2022


377 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, there's a lot of material to digest here. Then again, it's been four years since their last album so I'm not complaining. I wish more bands rewarded their fans like this.

Pikazilla
June 17th 2022


23181 Comments


Digging the vibes here way more than on AG

But this is a lot to digest for sure

Manning119
June 17th 2022


61 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

“Vexes fall somewhere between Vheissu-era Thrice and post-Diamond Eyes Deftones on a musical spectrum, but with plenty more to offer”



I am going to listen to this right now

Digging: Perfume Genius - Ugly Season

cvlts
June 17th 2022


9848 Comments


Vexes play a personally perfect variant of alternative metal - too cerebral and deliberate for fans of straightforward, mouth foaming barnburners and yet too fierce and caustic for those who recoil at impassioned screaming and bursts of sonic aggression.


Apt description, couldn't have said it better. Album is an exhausting listen. Definitely good, but can't decide yet if it's memorable enough to warrant a high rating. Gonna take awhile to digest.



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