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Veins - Innocence

by Jon Conant at 07 November 2017, 2:04 AM

I think the only thing I love more than a good Death Metal band is a Death Metal band that is playing beyond what is expected of them. What I mean by that is with young/newer/smaller bands, you might expect them to be good but perhaps you’re forgiving with some of the unoriginal songwriting, or look past poor production value because the band is a smaller operation, but you still enjoy it. That is not the case here. VEINS is a young band, formed in 2014 out of Italy. “Innocence” is their first release, but it has arrived kicking down the fucking door. It sounds like an album that would come from veteran head bangers that know exactly what they’re doing, and I can’t stop listening to it.

Intro track, “Animula Vagula Blandula”, is about 30 seconds long and perfectly sets up the dark, Death, Black Metal atmosphere that defines the album. I LOVE a good intro track, and this is a great one. Nothing beats a quick reminder that we’re going to be hearing about Satan, goats, etc., before launching into the unrelenting riffage of “Pt. 1” (which is track 2). And I don’t use the word unrelenting lightly. The guitars go hard. The bass is guttural and pounding, and the drums are quick and succinct. And those vocals, Francesco de Canio is out here providing some of the coolest harsh vocals I’ve heard in metal. He doesn’t just pick one tone/inflection and ride that out the entire time, which is a pet peeve of mine. What he does is provide different pitches, sounds, tones, and brings an overall layered experience to the vocals that I think is what separates the great bands from the good ones. It may be too early to tell, but I will be keeping a very close eye on Canio as the career of VEINS moves forward.

But don’t let me fool you; these guys aren’t just a one trick pony of blast-out-your-ears Death Metal riffs and heavy vocals. Track 3, “Dawn”, shows the skill of these musicians. The guitar work is much more technical, the drums are much quicker, and the track overall is reminiscent of Thrash/Speed Metal, but without losing the heavy and black atmosphere. That is a cool combination.

Track 4, “Reflections”, is like if the first 3 tracks all had a baby. It has the black atmosphere of the intro, the chugging and low riffs of “Pt. 1”, and the technical precision and speed of “Dawn”. Holy shit. Layering styles in this way is what gives this album ebb and flow, and that is the kind of songwriting you just don’t expect to hear from a band’s first release, but we are getting it here in full force. And in turn, track 5, “Part II”, takes the album to a brand new place to keep things moving. It’s slow, more extreme, and more industrial. And oh my god the vocals. There’s nothing I can type that will do them justice: you just have to listen.

Track 6, “Dying”, does something that for me shows this band is a serious contender. Clean vocals. Not a lot of clean vocals, just a bit added for layering, but what this does is it shows that VEINS is willing to adapt, grow, and evolve.  Something you’ll consistently notice in bands that make it big is they often refuse to put themselves in a box. I am very excited about the maturity that VEINS is showing in this album. Bonus hint: Dying isn’t the only track on the second half of the album with cleans.

The final track, Times Doesn’t Exist, is an excellent closer, which is another thing you look for from a band that knows how to create ebb and flow in an album. It is an instrumental track that contains acoustic guitar, slow and epic solos, symphonic backing sounds, chugging riffs, just about anything you could hope to hear from this band. It is epic, emotional, passionate, and ends the album on a feeling of “we’re just getting started.” The final riff of the song, and album, is technical, heavy, and even has a djent feel to it.

This album is phenomenal, that is an objective truth. In fact I would only have one serious criticism of it, and it’s not even criticism so much as it is advice. This album sounds amazing, it is well written, well produced, and performed with a lot of technical skill. However, it is not specifically original in terms of the sound. It’s a combination of very established death and black metal styles, in other words it doesn’t have anything I haven’t heard before. This is absolutely fine for a first release, write songs in the genre you are comfortable with and write them really well. Boom, they’ve knocked that out of the park. But as Veins grows, I hope to hear them grow into their own and add unique influences and style choices that will separate them from other bands. While playing music better than other bands is half the battle, and Veins is already a success there, you have to also out think and beat out other bands with innovation.

That being said, Innocence is an absolute success. If you love really good death/black metal, you are in for a good time.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Animula Vagula Blandula
2. Pt. 1
3. Until Dawn
4. Reflections
5. Pt. 2
6. Dying
7. Bullet in the Head
8. Innocence
9. Take My Hand
10. Time Doesn’t Exist
Francesco De Canio – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Fabio Romano – Bass
Lorenzo Natale – Lead Guitar
Riccardo Piazza – Drums 
Record Label: Extreme Metal Music


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Edited 28 September 2021

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