Vexes are a supergroup of sorts combining the talents of vocalist/guitarist Charlie Berezansky (ex-Vessl, ex-Downstage) and guitarist/keyboardist John Klagholz (ex-Vessl), alongside bassist Bobby Carpenter (as ex-A Life Once Lost) and drummer Justin Graves (as ex-A Life Once Lost). “Ancient Geometry” is the bands debut full length and is a self-release. Engineered and mixed by frontman Charlie Berezansky at Skywire Sound Studios in West Creek, New Jersey and mastered by Mike Kalajian at Rogue Planet Mastering. Kalajian will be familiar to some having previously mastered albums from the likes of Emmure, The DearHunter and Saosin.
Opening with “Helion” there is a distinct heavier end Deftones-esq quality to the sound while also having some guitar work reminiscent of Downer and even Will Haven at times. It’s a powerful opening salvo that chugs nicely while giving a taste for what is to come with the closing breakdowns are also an unexpected nice touch. A heavier opening track to start things off is nothing new and that’s exactly what we get. “Lift” has a more expansive vibe which allows Berezansky’s rich clean vocals to shine and build a dark almost star gazing atmosphere.
“Decisions Are Death Here” experiments with light and shade, building up patiently to each aching chorus. “Plasticine” sees some unclean vocal elements in the heavier parts but never stepping beyond anything that would change the atmosphere of the album. “No Color” has the surprise of a guest vocal from Mikey Carvajal of Islander, his almost spoken word rap is something that takes several listens to get used and comes from out of nowhere about 60 seconds in. The later part of his vocal, uncleans that bleed into backing vocals are far more fitting and work really well. Closing atmospherics and bordering ambient sounds help to clear the pallet before a gradual build into “Terra”. The song’s powerful chorus has a sing-a-long vibe while the unclean tones on the back end add gravitas the it. There is an impromptu Glassjaw style split breakdown before the final chorus that adds something new.
“Lush” has an inviting melody and catch chorus with a post-metal hook. The rise to unclean vocals in places adds weight and gravitas that pushes the song that bit further and no doubt will help bring some listeners from the softer side to heavier bands. “Meridian Response” has a simple guitar chord structure played acoustically to build atmosphere with some subtle slide guitar work in the background and may have appeared as an intro had the band chosen to order the songs differently. It’s dark and yet melancholy sound has a distinct beauty while also giving the listener a pause and rest before throwing us back in with “Photochrom”. Starting slowly and then picking up and hinting at a melodic Metalcore sound. Closing with the album title track “Ancient Geometry” has a moody, Glassjaw-esq intro and pre-chorus guitar riff, while a deep bass-line undertone across the bridge section bolsters the subtly of the guitar work while adding to the moody darkness. Perhaps aptly, it’s the longest track on the album at 6:28. The track actually finishes a minute before that and fades into an instrumental piece to close.
Comparisons between Vexes and The Deftones are unavoidable, the later being highly influential genre pioneers and Charlie Berezansky’s vocal delivery has the same emotional tones as The Deftones own Chino Moreno. However, once you get over that initial hurdle, there is enough experimentation within each of the bands songs to give it a life of its own. There is no doubting the bands talent, in the musicianship and song writing departments everything is done to perfection. The only real question is will they be able to mix it up with more variety the next time around? There is no doubting that the Ashbury Park, New Jersey quartet may find this album could be a tough act to follow. [7/10]
3. Decisions Are Death Here
5. No Color (ft. Mikey Carvajal from Islander)
8. Meridian Response
10. Ancient Geometry
You can pick up “Ancient Geometry” by Vexes over at Bandcamp.
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