Album Review: "Errorzone" - Vein (Closed Casket Activities)

For fans of: Converge, Slipknot, Sanction, Tourniquet

Vein have come a long way as a band. Just a year ago, I saw them play for the first time at The D, a tiny venue in Gary, Indiana. As of right now, they’re currently the opening act for hardcore giants Code Orange’s summer tour, and they’ll be playing This is Hardcore in late July, among a countless amount of other huge shows. What matters about this is the fact that they deserve every ounce of hype they get.

Errorzone is exactly the chaotic, complex, and intense debut album that fans anticipated - and yet, better than anyone could have expected. The band’s musical talent is immense. It is rare that a band can make this many elements work together this well. The record features old-school nu-metal electronic drum fills, to traditional hardcore breakdowns, to a mid-2000’s metalcore-reminiscent piano outro, to clean-sung vocals to screaming that is what I imagine your virus-infected childhood computer's voice would sound like.

The album opens with the first single, Virus://Vibrance, and takes no time going from a trip hop-influenced drum fills into the full-on assault of intensity that the rest of the album thrusts the listener into. They open with this song on their current setlist, and the fact that they completely skipped introductions and went straight into it set the tone of their set well.

Straight after is the re-released version of one of their older songs, Old Data in a Dead Machine. This seems to be one of the few demo songs that made the cut (along with Untitled and Quitting Infinity) - vocalist Anthony Didio told Exclaim! that he feels that everything before the four songs they re-released as the Self-Destruct 7” are “sterile” and “didn't do justice [to] how [they] wanted to sound.” All in all - I’m glad this one made it. This thrashing, dissonant re-imagining of the song breathes new life into what already sounded like the frenzied soundtrack to a horror movie torture scene.

Flowing smoothly through its introductory riff is my favorite, Rebirth Protocol. The primary riff of this song will stick in your head for days. The most incredible quality of this song - it’s just a little over a minute, but manages to incorporate so many sounds without feeling like a track that was rushed or inserted as a filler.

Broken Glass Complexion, along with having one of the band’s signature disturbing, abstract titles, features shattering breakdowns and guitar effects throughout. This flows into an interlude of sorts called Anesthesia, which puts drummer Matt Wood’s skills on display over the sound of a sirens and an ominous spoken vocal.

This goes into the second single, Demise Automation, which is another shorter track at just under two minutes. While it is still a complete, non-rushed track, its sound errs on the side of a more desperate quickness than Rebirth Protocol.

After this is Doomtech, a song the band debuted at This is Hardcore in 2017. This is, to me, one of the most complete metal songs that has been released in recent times. The song begins with a unique groove, and flows smoothly from a relentlessly thundering refrain into Didio’s clean vocals. This slowed-down bit is one of the first times in the album that the listener gets to relax before heading straight back into the same refrain.

The album is picked up by Untitled, another minute-long song full of guitar effects, dissonant clean vocals, and more drumming that sounds downright exhausting. End Eternal gives a similar effect, with impossibly complicated musicianship from all involved. I guarantee you cannot thing of another song with a riff quite like the beginning of this one - it sounds like the audible version of a glitch in the matrix.

Finally, we are brought to the album’s title track, Errorzone. This song begins in typical Vein fashion, with tumultuous breakdowns interspersed with catchy, near-electronic chords. The most interesting quality is the fact that it switches mid-song into a piano-laced crossover verse that sounds like the reimagined, refined, and perfected version of the metalcore bands you secretly reminisce on from your youth.

(photo credit unknown)

At last, Vein wraps with another demo track, Quitting Infinity. This is an abrasive track that features some of my favorite guitar parts, as well as some of my favorite lyrical content on the album. However, don’t let the fact that these are some of the clearer lyrics undercut the songs. As a person who loves language, Vein’s songwriter is an absolute genius. Their lyrics, which I have heard described anywhere from Lovecraftian to straight-up discomforting, gives me a vibe reminiscent of language poetry (if that's not something you're familiar with, check out these poems by Harryette Mullen and Roberto Harrison). If you haven't paid attention to the lyrics, take a look sometime.

Errorzone is already shaping up to be one of my favorite releases this year. It’s about time for the hardcore genre to try something new. If it’s not your thing, that’s fine, but I’m convinced that a lot of the bitching about Vein’s sound on the internet is bandwagoning from those who want to be different. I'm here to tell you - doing that is not worth it. This record has so much going on that it could appeal to everyone from your little brother who listens to nothing but metalcore, the kid in your class who exclusively listens to obscure metal, your Korn-reminiscing uncle, and your hardcore show-going friends.

It’s hard to even create a “for fans of” list for Errorzone. I find the sounds they are arguably pioneering interest in to be almost completely unique in the world of hardcore today. I'll quote vocalist Anthony Didio one more time, as he summarized this thought better than I could:

I enjoy seeing people compare our music, because I can't wait for them to hear the next song. They'll have to reconsider their opinions once they have a better understanding of what the album is. We love most of the bands that people compare us to, but it's pigeonholing. It's a way of easily understanding something that isn't easily understood.

If someone thinks it's really harsh to listen to, I think that's awesome. If it's having that effect on someone, I guess the music holds a lot of power to cause such a conflicted reaction.”

Listen to Errorzone below:


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