Whether any metalhead wants to admit it or not, hardcore and punk have a massive impact on the metal genre. We’re talking about a genre that pretty much invented fight music. The thing about hardcore and punk is that it’s so attached to its roots that once it changes, it reverts back to what it was. The genre evolves, but it’s never for a very long period of time. It’s something that gradually accepts change, usually through generational shifts. Why? Well, nostalgia for those that tried something different. However, Vein is a band that has been trying something different for a while now.
Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, Vein is a hardcore band comparable to Code Orange—but way more experimental. While equally aggressive, they branch in a different way, going from the swelling anguish of metallic hardcore found in Converge or Botch, to droning/experimental, screamo passages reminiscent of Jerome’s Dream (who happen to be recording a new LP this year) and Orchid. Wash that down with a healthy dose of Deftones. Or at least that’s roughly how vocalist Anthony Didio describes the band.
Vein’s debut Errorzone is a twenty-seven-minute bonafide crusher. From start to finish, this record is disarming, brutal, honest, melodic, and relentlessly interesting. “Virus://Vibrance” opens things on, what might be, the most digestible song for someone that’s not into this kind of music. The song feels like it has a call to action instrumentally, staying punk and then getting into some brutal territory. Still, it’s the way Vein incorporate guitar effects that turns heads. Not just to play with the tempo or make things sound messed up (though they often do), but also to give more personality to the leads and licks. Of course, that doesn’t end with the first track.
The further you delve into Errorzone the more apparent it is that Vein’s fusion is also incredibly organic. Sometimes it sounds like the band is sounding an alarm. Sometimes it sounds like they’re throwing phase shifter pedals ten octaves up to intensify things. It’s more than just messing with guitar pedals. The band’s songwriting creates some truly violent moments both loud and soft. “Anesthesia," as an example, is a harrowing, dream-like spell that has no aggressive edge. Yet it still manages to peel back skin and sound like genuine soul violence. Meanwhile, other tracks like the more outwardly aggressive “Demise Automation” will turn your room into a boxing ring.
I know people are throwing out a bunch of different phrases to describe Errorzone, but the best way to describe it is to simply experience it. Let all the subgenre of a subgenre of a subgenre labels go. Drawing comparisons are one thing but taking a stamp and giving it a name is quite another. Errorzone is, at least currently, a landmark album for hardcore, and proof that once again, the genre can grow outward in the right hands. Start to finish, this album is crushing and moving. The brutality is rampant and the flow of this album is masterful. When Didio cleanly coos, “It’s out of my hands” it starts to sound like an apt self-descriptor for the way this record is (rightfully) exploding.
Hardcore, as stated at the beginning of this review, is often something that’s awash in reminisce. “Don’t forget your roots” is a phrase you never stop hearing. Vein is very much awash in nostalgia, but out of it, they pull something fresh and devastating. Errorzone is a rare kind of debut. It’s hardcore down to its marrow, but it’s got so much more to offer at every bone snapping turn.