If there’s one thing we have learned from recent years, society has built up a wave of anger deep inside and the result has been a polarizing world. In other words, history tends to repeat itself and we’re right stuck in the middle. No one knows where this world is heading, but British progressive modern metal band VEXED have based their debut effort, “Culling Culture,” on a post-modern society and call it “a tribute to hate, betrayal, and anger.” This reflection is brutally honest, unfiltered, and possibly one of the grooviest records to see the light this year. Luckily for us, “Culling Culture” will be unleashed upon the world on May 21st, 2021, via Napalm Records.
“Culling Culture” starts off with ambient sounds from the outside world in society – soft sirens and noise mix with a rather atmospheric soundscape and the climax comes in a nasty growl from singer Megan Targett, after which groovy, gnarly riffs take over. From the first moment, you may already grasp the vibe that VEXED has put in this record and “Ignorant” therefore works very well as an atmospheric intro to the record. The real opener of the record, “Hideous,” is a vile beast of a song, which the listener will soon realize is quite untamable. The technical death metal -infused breakdown is probably one of the most violent sections I’ve ever heard and yet, this band seems to be about so much more than anger and heaviness. Targett‘s vocals are on point, switching between growls and cleans; she sometimes even sounds hopeful.
Continuing with “Fake,” VEXED starts off with a distant strumming guitar sound mixed in with some ambient sounds, which serves as an intro to the mid-paced track. While a bit slower and perhaps more melodic than the energetic opener, this track follows somewhat of the same line: sick, groovy, and another banger of a track. “Epiphany” at first slows it down significantly, however, picks up its pace after the somewhat mellow intro. This track shows Targett‘s clean vocal delivery very well and highlights her very diverse performance throughout this album.
“Misery” mostly focuses on rhythmic guitar chugging, while it switches up with more melodic sections and a very powerful chorus. Once again, the listener is confronted with throat-cutting growls, churning breakdowns, and incredibly groovy riffs. I admit that in my lifetime, I have encountered a fair number of narcissists and maybe that’s the reason I was instantly drawn to the very technical “Narcissist,” which is also probably one of the most brutal tracks on this album. Specific for this song is the almost alarming melody line that is strung throughout the verses, and almost mechanical guitar sounds. Regardless of the lyrics, this song to me is a big fuck you to all people have an inflated sense of their own importance. Killer track!
The next track, “Weaponise,” starts off with seemingly dissonant sounds, building up tension, and even when the sound disappears when the track really kicks off, there are yet other elements that are impressive. Take, for instance, Targett‘s rapping. “Purity” was perhaps the biggest surprise on this record, because it has a very ’80s, retro game music -feel to it, especially in the intro, and could bring in a very different audience. Interestingly, this track at times feels even uplifting. From this seemingly out-of-the-box track to another intro that focuses mostly on electronic beats and sounds that eventually bleeds into “Aurora,” it takes us to a track that has hauntingly beautiful melodies and shows yet another side of the band. Leaving all the anger behind, VEXED show that they are also good in a calmer realm. While not exactly a ballad, this song truly is one of the standout tracks on this record. Final track “Lazarus” starts off with a strumming guitar and atmospheric clean vocals, but then one last time, VEXED unleashes the fury on this track, making it a “to the point” way to end this album.
Altogether, “Culling Culture” is an excelling debut effort mixing in different genres with an incredible twist. Fans of modern metal who also enjoy genres like progressive metal, technical death metal, groove metal, and numetal will definitely spin this record a lot. On the forefront of all the groovy riffs, pummeling drums, and vicious breakdowns are Meghan Targett‘s powerful vocals tying the band’s sound together with intense growling and often hauntingly beautiful clean vocals. Signing a modern metal band like VEXED was a smart choice by Napalm Records because VEXED truly is a band that has success written all over them and the proof of that is “Culling Culture.”
Megan Targett – vocals
Jay Bacon – guitar
Willem Mason-Geraghty – drums
Al Harper – bass