The debut EP from UK metalers Vera Grace has had a bit of a buzz behind it with comparisons of Underoath, Oceana, and Parkway Drive being thrown the way of the band. The Oxfordshire quintet are building a fine and respectful reputation for their raw and aggressive hardcore/metal sound which has had many eagerly waiting for this release, The Rotations EP. Now with the experience of hearing it one has to say the comparisons maybe a little premature as the EP shows a band still evolving and finding its sound but the EP also offers up a wealth of promise that will surely see the band make a true and deeper mark ahead.
Formed in 2011 whilst still at school, the line-up of vocalist Stephen Nulty, guitarists Jonjo Williams and Chris Thirtle, bassist Aaron Godfray, and drummer Josh Williams, has already left trails though ears with their first single Living Forever Isn’t Living At All and a free download single in the shape of Dark Hearts which has just been released prior to the EP. Rotations unleashed on May 14th is set to light up even more senses whilst as mentioned igniting a keen anticipation of greater things ahead.
The release opens with Wasting Away and takes no time in scorching the ear with well crafted and incisive riffs alongside a deep imaginative bassline. The song soon flexes its muscles with a concentrated aggressive rhythm and demanding riffs which easily stride through to the senses whilst the growls of Nulty leave coarse trails that compliment and add intensity to the song without being overtly violent. Then the song leaves one wrong footed by the introduction of his clean vocals. It has to be said immediately that on this song they work wonderfully though one wonders if in the way intended, but as the release progresses that aspect of their music suggests it still needs more definition and work. An excellent coarse purveyor of words his clean attack is not an easy or seamless fit but as mentioned on Wasting Away it actually works to their advantage. On the song it brings a surprising old post punk feel with elements of Public Image and Joy Division coming in, and once given some time to digest it works wonderfully making the track easily the favourite.
The stirring Lost comes next and another track where the band rampage with a strong accomplished skill and power . The music is not particularly ground breaking but it is certainly as strong if not better than the majority of other emerging similar veined bands. The track pummels with a sure intent to keep the attention fully focused to ensure the fine melodic interplay and detours the song neatly takes are not missed. To balance the earlier comment the vocals work a treat in both guises on the song and are well placed within the alternating melodic and aggressive demands.
Esther’s Imagination takes over to continue the impressive consumption from the well crafted and thoughtful testing of the senses. There is a nice balance and blend between the two sides of the music that persistently intrigues and keeps one interested. Sadly here the vocals lack cohesion on the clean side, it is not terrible or destructive to the song but just a sign of some work to do and even greater things to come.
The title track brings an atmospheric progressive touch as it emerges and expands and brief though it is it explores and displays the creative side of the band wonderfully as it leads into the closing beast of a track in I Am The Earth. Expressive and emotive the song is a towering wall of heavy incisive sounds and melodic invention that takes one on an at times tumultuous journey. It is a formidable song which sadly loses its stature from the latter clean vocals and group shouts. Hopefully this will not come over as an attack on Nulty as for the whole he is as mighty as the rest of the band with his aggressive grabbing of the emotions. The band just need to reassess the use and placing of his clean vocals and infuse them to the best effect as on the opener.
Vera Grace are a band on the rise which need a close eye on as Rotations more than suggests something special will be coming are way soon.