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The Vicious Head Society – Extinction Level Event Award winner

The Vicious Head Society
Extinction Level Event
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 12 May 2021, 6:42 AM

I reviewed VICIOUS HEAD SOCIETY's debut album "Abject Tomorrow" what feels like ages ago. I guess it has been four years already! In that time, this project of Graham Keane, whose debut was impressive anyway, must have been honing his skills even further because the second offering "Extinction Level Event" is even better.

Mastermind Graham Keane brings about a different set of musicians this time around.  He himself handles keys and some bass this time in addition to the guitar. This future prog legend has a lot of guts to open up this album with a ten minute long instrumental considering most bands bury their own instrumentals deep into a track list. But VICIOUS HEAD SOCIETY's confidence at such an young age is staggering. They blow through the ten minutes with insane amounts of skill and keen musical eyes.  What I enjoy so much about the band, this song and the album is that despite their immense playing abilities, it never comes off as musical masturbation or unnecessary flair and showmanship.

Songwriting comes first and I don’t hear stuffy pretension….just dudes who have a love for progressive metal and play their hearts out and asses off. The title track hits hard in the beginning after a clever built in intro. The riffs are chunky and heavy yet groovy enough to meld these beginning moments together. The lead guitar is very natural, the notes seeming to grow out of the song itself instead of being overbearing or out of place. Like a good instrumental should, this one runs through many moods from heavy, to stark atmosphere and even playful and whimsical melodies. A hell of an opener.

"Solipsism," introduces us to the vocals of Nathan Maxx. He is a huge asset to this album because his voice is perfect for this style.  It isn’t too operatic nor rough…just a nice balanced performance with much excitement behind it. Andy Ennis provides the excellent growls and the two compliment each other well. "Solipsism," is often times a rager of a track due in no small part to the drums. At times it had a thrash feel to it which makes it much more urgent than what other prog bands are doing right now. Good. "Judgment," begins like an approaching juggernaut. I liked how the riffs go from pummeling to more of an ethnic feel but nothing feels rushed or pieced together. The clean instrumentation during the verses provide a nice backdrop from the clean vocals and the overall atmosphere. When the growls appear the song turns into a head banging groove machine. This is yet another example of how well Graham is at adapting the songs on the fly to other genres while making it all fit together in the bigger picture.

"Throes of Despair," is an interesting track. The drums and riffs rip the song up initially but the verses have them hanging back for more ambient tones and keys with a "watery" feel to them.  The band comes together for the chorus for a big sound in a short amount of time. The riffs and the hammering sounds afterwards are intense  but the mood changes once again with a gorgeous guitar solo before settling back onto the chorus. The final track "Hymn of Creation," is perhaps my favorite on the album. The bouncy bass jumps around the melodic guitar solo. The atmosphere here is precocious and full of wonderment. There is a real sense of discovery permeating in the song.  And how about that chorus? Majestic and those growls at the end are icing on the cake. The keys after the chorus kept me engaged, constantly waiting to see what is around the next corner. In this case it is super tight riffs and bass with potent growls and cleans. The wonderful keyboard passage drifts the song back to the catchy chorus

VICIOUS HEAD SOCIETY definitely avoid the sophomore slump and raise their own high standards in the process by taking their sound to next level.  If you like prog of any type, this album is a must hear.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Extinction Level Event
2. Solipsism
3. The Signal
4. Judgement
5. Throes of Despair
6. YP138
7. On a Silver Thread
8. Absolution
9. Hymn of Creation
Lineup:
Graham Keane – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards

Session musicians:

Andy Ennis - Vocals (Growls)
Klemen Markelj - Drums
Pat Byrne - Bass
Nahuel Ramos - Keyboards (Solo)
Matheus Manente - Bass (Tracks 3, 7)
Shelley Weiss - Violin (Track 4)
Nathan Maxx - Vocals (Clean)
Record Label: Hostile Media
     


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