Issued by the Church Independent Occult You album from Italian group VANITY combines the best European traditions of gothic rock, post-punk, darkwave, and even elements of metal and other alternative music styles. Unlike other projects, that decide to create similar hybrids, it is not a formless mix of nondescript taste, but a real, smoothly hewn crystal that shimmers and opalescents.
The first thing, that draws attention, is the ideal production - enhancing the best qualities of music, establishing a place for each item. The second - what comes in really quickly – it is undeniable talent. The third - sensitivity and imagination. And with these qualities it is really easy for a successful, pampered in every way work.
The music on the Occult You infects with emotionality (in which a large contribution is coming from Palestine singer N with a characteristic, strong and warm tone and considerable skills), paralyzing with power of rock kick, characterized by smoothing and maintaining a unique style – and all that is included in the story about the search of a lost love, loneliness and personal tragedies shining in different colors with an advantage of the dominant shades of black.
The first track, that listener is able to acquaint to, is a single’s Sleeping Tears and the choice is undoubtedly good. The very first sounds - growing slowly riff and rhythm strike out by percussion is focusing all the attention, acting like a magnet. Suddenly, when the track begins to take the melody, appears the bass guitar and unimposing choir in the background, without a word of objection the listener can be driven by a wave of music, especially when the theater is joined by the N with the warm, clear and strong voice. Catchiness and strength of the composition increases with every moment, creating a romantic, gothic show of guitar’s force and emotions. Imposed vocals, muting, to suddenly strike while singing is getting stronger with a double vehemence - all makes that, it is difficult to throw out Sleeping Tears from the head, and the sounds seem to have enough power, to overcome and force to constant, passionate dance while trapped in memories of love.
Under Black Ice is a completely different creation, standing out most on the background of material. The most plain, the most desperate and the most painful, from which comes out almost tangible, terrifying coldness, slowly taking control of veins and transforming into a block of ice. And it may be better for the one who is singing the words, to submit to this, than to feel the suffering that is the heart of the composition. Frosty, icy keyboards, slow, guitar riffs in the background like whiffs of winter wind and vocal, theatrical, almost dying from cold and hopelessness. Used sound effects aggravate that result, giving a way to constant march through the snow towards the aim, which can not be achieved.
Ghosts is a professional work that is drawing from best traditions of gothic rock, full of romance, full of monotonous dance motorics, which stops at the end of the composition, when it gains slower, dark climate - from that moment governs heavy guitar and vocal which harmonizes with it by building chorus mood. Decent work, but only decent.
Ruins is one of the pearls on the record. It starts sparingly - low, slow riffs in the background and bass guitar create a grim atmosphere, that arises, when they are joined by drums and disturbing vocal with a whisper in the background. Slowly increasing dynamics accompanies the singing, which smoothly turns into an appealing, high register. Calmer, mesmerizing fragments are interwoven by parts ruled by a low, powerful and sinister guitar sound, sometimes ruthlessly taking control over the composition, and overlaid vocals on each other deliciously gain in strength and sharpness, intensifying the gloomy atmosphere and turning in almost cry, when the music is rushing at a breakneck speed.
Pagan Hearts is one of the highlights on the tracklist. It begins with a pleasant, smooth riffs and sounds of bells in the background, to talk at a moderate pace about pagan affair with a warm and genuinely delightful vocal. It allows troubled nerves to relax and to sink into the deep latent desires. The original idea is a lively, drawing to dance, folk intermezzo showed against specially suiting it drums.
Sun, similar at some extent to the Ruins, but much more direct and heavier stands out even to the current compositions with almost doom atmosphere and faster pace. That is the journey through the after grave landscape, full of weariness and discouragement. There are no brighter moments, it is ensured by sounding from the depth vocals, low, rushing distorted riffs and low vocal with the effect of delay.
The crystal, shining with a bright light on a darker background texture is certainly Time's New Romance, played almost pop like, but not resigning from the guitar’s weight, which explodes from the motoric drums and bass guitar, and flowing from it melancholy. Everything is arranged so, that one can not help but smile of admiration, it remains with the most distinctive features of the album, and also stands out due to the lighter play and more positive message. Emotions that are inserted into the composition immediately spread to the listener, who loses control - as in sung words.
After an unusual interlude for the content of the record, which is Limbo - characterized by a sleepy, quiet, a bit "dirty" climate and deep, pulsating beat associating with the contemporary independent electronics, group serves another surprise. The title track - Occult You - is one of the best compositions on the album. Based mainly on electronic accompaniment and live percussion atmospheric darkwave, much warmer than the previous Under Black Ice, immediately evocates Medusa album from Clan of Xymox, however, it has been given the most modern form. The slow, hypnotic music wash over the listener - under the apparent simplicity hides multilayer form, allowing for a deeper immersion in it. Drilling in mind main melody line is based on a simple theme and accompanying other components throughout the track, choral sound as if coming from the depths of the synthesizer in the background, moderate hypnotic rhythm, emotional guitar which operates on the softer and higher than in other compositions sounds as well as emotional, appealing, warm vocal - all this makes the listener feel left alone with the music (which once hits harder, and other times it weakens just like the river waves) and drowns almost like Ophelia washed by the warm water.
The only thing that I can not forgive - instead of leaving the listener alone with silencing slowly music in a pleasant state of the upcoming sleep, it is interrupted by frenzy, heavy riffs of The Wanderer - piece, in which influences from black metal can be found, the genre band also refers to. Fortunately, these effects tend to be quite far away and the whole preserves the atmosphere of other compositions. Severe, cold verses based on weight of fast guitar riffs with a more aggressive vocal with an applied filter are made lighter by a brighter, melodic chorus so characteristic to the whole material. This pattern is interrupted by doom riffs, when vocal suddenly becomes of a less emotional, cold nature, and the weight of the composition increases with coming to the background repeated by the N phrase. The whole reminiscents on one hand the Killing Joke, on the other hand a decent metal music. The Wanderer, the heaviest track on the Occult You leaves the listener in a traumatic sense of condemnation, effectively washing away the remains of the melancholy’s beauty of the title track.
Album Occult You was recorded in a total isolation - and perhaps because of it fully reflects the sensitivity of the group members extracted by each sound. Opportunity to focus solely on the music gave the unique work, presenting considerable technical ability and composing imagination of the group - each piece of the puzzle fits perfectly, there is no other place for it, and the sole paths are routed in its original, authentic style - full of the retro spirit.
What is outstanding in VANITY music, it is an innovative approach to combining in an appropriate way components that are known for a long time and give them a modern design while maintaining the balance and nature of the individual elements. It rarely succeeds, as any fan of rock branch of dark independent has certainly chance to find out. Flooding of the market every now with indistinct, flat, having nothing to appeal hybrids that are disgusting just like monsters of science fiction can not match the Occult You – music which is thrilling, thoroughly modern and fresh, but also infusing with the great strength by an ancient spirit and nobility. And just like red wine tastes the better, the sooner it was bottled, as in the case of VANITY that rule does not work - tasting of that beverage without any doubt will be an extremely rewarding experience.
01. Sleeping Tears
02. Under Black Ice
05. Pagan Hearts
07. Time’s New Romance
09. Occult You
10. The Wanderer
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