VEXED - Culling Culture / Digipak CD
The latest resurgence of progressive modern metal has arisen with massive bands like Whitechapel, but its inevitable arena of assertive street swagger and hyperfocused brutality is yet left vacant. Enter the UK’s most exciting new talent, VEXED. The crushing Hertfordshire foursome combine aggressive groove mixed with ominous threads of progressive atmosphere on their long-awaited debut album, Culling Culture. If the release of two recent one-off singles served as an auditory love tap (i.e. “Elite” featuring Thy Art is Murder vocalist CJ McMahon, boasting over 500k independently driven cross-platform streams as of early 2021), Culling Culture is a wound-up suckerpunch. Hard-as-nails lead vocalist Megan Targett’s vicious vocal assault blending venomously low growls, soaring cleans and razor-sharp rap-like deliveries (see “Fake” and “Weaponise”) is backed by the pure technical proficiency of bandmates Willem Mason-Geraghty (drums), Jay Bacon (guitar) and Al Harper (bass). Airtight riffs à la genre greats Meshuggah and favorites like Periphery and Vildhjarta, an instigating rhythm section and stratospheric solos and leads prove that VEXED could just as confidently command the biggest open-air stages as they could the toughest of backroom hardcore shows.
For as confident as they are musically, VEXED is as poignant lyrically. The title of the album, Culling Culture, and portions of its contents deliver the band’s unfiltered response to the world’s latest social phenomena of public ostracism, “cancel culture”. The warning instrumental “Ignorant” prefaces the record’s menacing atmosphere and provides a flawless basis for smashing wake-up-call “Hideous” and fiery, threatening tracks “Fake” and “Narcissist”. Ghostly “Aurora” and disrespectfully heavy album-closer “Lazarus” showcase Targett’s multi-faceted clean vocal delivery while clashing otherworldly auras with resonating, melodic rhythms. “Epiphany” blends both, offering a bold message of moving past self-loathing, while superciliously weighty offering “Weaponise” seethes between violent hatred and ambient darkness.
Facing very personal experiences, Culling Culture is a tribute to hate, betrayal and anger, whilst also reflecting post-modern society with strikingly honest songwriting and heavy groove. Anger can either destroy you or provide real strength, and on this 11-track offering, VEXED prove the latter as they climb to the top.