Growing up in the late ’90s and early ’00s meant being exposed to some of the greatest examples of bad metal. Like, genuinely really bad metal. Some of it was great though, of course. Everyone loved it at the time too, or so one would think, given the absurd amount of airtime bands received. Someone’s lying if they tell you they don’t have a favourite nu-metal band. Lying to your face. It’s the big easy thing to say but yes, let’s assume Vein probably enjoyed some of the same music. Their debut LP, errorzone, gives that away, but not nearly as directly as most have been making out. There’s a bit more to it than just nu-metalcore.
Within scenes adjacent to Vein’s debut full length, there’s already been plenty said about the sonic roots of the Boston band’s mutated metal sound. The comparisons to Slipknot explode to the forefront because of opener “Virus://Vibrance” and its subtle-as-a-brick-to-the-dick drum loop. They had to know it was going to be some people’s first point of reference for the record. But it passes. Vein have built their reputation on a hectic live show and jarring metalcore – the real kind, not the 2008 Kerrang kid kind – and for the most part, it’s pretty metallic hardcore. Panic chords and crunching beatdowns stamp out with industrial precision, albeit in a slightly gentrified version of the maelstrom of their work thus far. Formed into a flurry of tracks, the unnerving hostility loses a touch of the bitter edge. Not enough to dull the message, but enough to need the other sounds and styles that help blur the line between metal new, nu, and old.
For example – it’s comparison time – “Broken Glass Complexion” kicks in with a call and response section that screams of peak Soulfly. Early Soulfly was fucking sick, let’s just put that out in the world. Vein harness a Cavalera energy that they don’t exhaust with the hostilities; it’s their own brand, but the Brazilian bullishness is similar enough to relate. The familiar nature of the various alt-metal moments brings to mind Filter and Glassjaw rather than Disturbed and Spineshank, thankfully. “Doomtech” blends the carefully packed groove and snappy, angsty glory into maybe the most telling track on the record. The chorus a weirdly satisfying delivery of a bizarre, tragic line, something that stands out from a long list of dumb metalcore lyrics that the genre, not the band, has spat out through the years.
“every time I close my eyes I crash a thousand cars and all my loved ones die
surging with the urges to mutilate and all the guilt of every unwanted thought it brings”
Twice as powerful when it comes back in the second time, shifted down a notch from guttural to ground smashing. It’s a tie between these two and the title track for the most post/nu/hard,… attempt at stomping out a unique take on merging a whole bunch of stylistic ticks and tricks into what really is just groovy, dark metalcore. The flourishes of clean vocals and PlayStation crashing samples (probably) are notable, but somewhat, meh. It’s hard to be critical of because as a whole entity, the record is satisfying and heavy, it just could be so much more so of both.
errorzone does plateau but at the right time – the end. The maniacal and wildly entertaining mayhem found on their prior releases loses some charm on their debut and the short runtime keeps everything charging forward, at least. It’s quite safe, even in its genre-melding execution. That’s kind of a bummer. There are all the signs of Vein being a huge name in alternative music, maybe even one that will cross the boundaries of ages as well as scenes. It’s furious stuff, sure. It just doesn’t know quite know where to sit yet. For the most part, errorzone is undeniably catchy and snappy – heavy music fans rejoice! It is patchy when it comes to the nostalgia blasts, if only because it feels like some of them were late in the day additions. More time merging these worlds and the next Vein record will get a far more glowing review, rather than one that references Disturbed and Spineshank.
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