Review: Vexed – Negative Energy

Somewhere in Hertfordshire lies a monster that is about to be unleashed. A mammoth soundscape of trauma, death, anxiety and grief that is one shake away from being unlocked and set free. The monster in question is Negative Energy, the sophomore album by the British alt metal trio Vexed.

I don’t think I’ve heard a metal album that is so heavily layered with audible elements of panic and trepidation since Slipknot’s 2001 record Iowa. Vexed have successfully made a truly haunting and scary album, one that even made me feel anxious at times from just listening to it. Vocalist Megan Targett is one ferocious frontwoman, ripping through the album’s 13 tracks with such brutal viciousness that it will blow you away upon first listening.

Negative Energy kicks off with PTSD, an intro track that immediately sets a dark tone right from the word ‘go’. As the instrumental plays through, a report about the condition is heard, alongside a very mysterious voice whispering and crying, which both create an incredibly unsettling and eerie atmosphere for the listener, as the band prepares them for hell. Next up is the lead single Anti-Fetish, a monstrous and pulsating track that is doused in anxious overtones, such as Jay Bacon’s glitchy divebomb guitar effects, as well as a separate guitar line that sounds like swarming bees, thanks to its creepy reverberated sound. The track also contains one of my favourite lyrics from the whole album, where Megan screams “We all sound the fucking same / So what’s the point in trying to stand out? / And we’re all just copying each other / So listen to one and you’ve heard all of us”.

And then there’s a track called Panic Attack; a song that is NOT to be skipped. As you would more or less expect from its title, it’s a 3-and-a-half-minute-long manic adventure that will get your adrenaline rushing, and your fight or flight response activated. Megan’s fast rap-like delivery is a perfect touch to the subject matter of the song, as well as the “Breathe, just breathe” growls in between, showing the trio are really attentive to detail and small intricacies. It’s also worth noting that in essentially every track on this album, if you listen closely enough, you can hear an uneasy reverberated guitar line of some sort creeping its way into the mix, which helps build up the anxious tension in each track’s subject matter – creating a “my mind is playing tricks on me” sort of vibe that only a few bands can achieve through sound.

Being both stylistically accurate and musically ambiguous at the same time, Vexed really have created the most intense metal album of the year, and the way to convince yourself is to simply press play. Considering this is only the 2nd album in their career thus far, it’s an astounding record that is concrete proof that they are a band to watch in the UK scene right now.

Available now on Napalm Records.

Review – Joe Richardson

[photo credit: Andy Ford]

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