When alternative rock lost its angst in the mid-’90s, it also lost its soul. Just as the prior generation of glam metal bands got drunk on hairspray, a foray into flannel clad dis-euphoria also wore thin (not to mention, insincere). So while Turin-cum-Bristol band Vetna borrowed their cues from said era, it’s nice that they also folded English techno, big beat and ambient sounds into the mix. In other words, these Italians made things safe for hip swaying, despite the crunch of occasionally hard-plugged grit. Less whiplash, more texture is the formula here. And that’s damn near perfect for anyone currently in traction or smarting from cervical arthritis.
Fronted by Lorenzo Chia, the group’s first proper LP As Lips Run tints its music with a “significant psychedelic vibe.” And while it also offers ten sonically engaging tracks, 70% of them extend over the four-minute mark, with one, “Fragmentation,” clocking in at a face-melting 14:39. Yet, very rarely does any of this drag. Percussion and keys are the stars, boasting front-and-center bragging rights on nearly every song. Sure, the guitars (infrequently) rip, but their limited use turns the alt rock moniker on its head. We’re a long way from crunchy angst, ears tuned to the mercury bursting low-end of bass and drums.
The album’s opener “Frankfurt Violence” is both urgent and warm, as samples shriek over focused guitar; the latter acting as a fulcrum around which all effects pivot. The feel is purposefully disorienting (if not endemic to cardiac arrest). It’s the soundtrack to an unmedicated ADHD brawl, and it slows only once, presumably to allow enough time to yank the shiv out of your side. Keeping pace, “Blankets Pt I” begins with a snug, analog keyboard that accompanies jangly guitar. Breathy vocals alternate into faux falsetto, until “Blankets Pt II” punctuates the calm with a sweat-spray of drumming. Vague allusions to Middle Eastern scales and Mantovani horns keep things interesting. And that’s the appeal. Vetna refuses to shoehorn themselves into a predictable locus.
Further embracing erraticism, “Betelgeuse” proffers a grand example of organic techno, played (and screamed) with real instruments. “Fragmentation,” the aforementioned opus, serves up hefty Eric Carr drum hits amid ominous whispered vocals redolent of Marilyn Manson. A menacing, needle-gun drone hums in at the five-minute mark until, in a rare error of misdirection, the plot gets lost.
The second half of the record is a touch less engaging because, smartly, the more indelible ear worms are loaded up front. By no way does that dismiss, or even diminish, its so-called ‘back five’ offerings. The heavy stomp of “Snow,” for instance, casts a visual panorama on the song’s namesake. One can hear every labored boot print, every tundral slog that, ultimately, explodes into a very satisfying thrash metal blowout.
One might frame this music as delivered in the key of Sinoia Caves, particularly his work for director Panos Cosmatos: sound as color, and both as emotive tool. Is that too technical? Just turn on and tune in, as the heads would say. Consuming this is a hell of a lot safer than tripping balls with that vagrant behind the gas station, however long or strange.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook