Vehemence - Forward Without Motion
Battleground Records
Melodic Death Metal
9 songs (56'26")
Release year: 2015
Reviewed by Alex

I wanted this review to appear in the same weekly update as the eponymous French medieval folk black band, with apostrophe in the latter Vehemence applied strategically. Thought it would be cute. Yet it turned out I needed a lot more time to be spent with the American, Arizona to be specific, Vehemence comeback Forward Without Motion.

I suspect I would not be alone in taking a long look at Forward Without Motion if you are impartial to Vehemence. On one hand, when you plot your next album for nine long years there must be a lot of gunpowder stored in that bag waiting to blow out, a lot of energy pent up, and if you want to come into relevance again, an effort after such a long absence must be special. Vehemence certainly tried their best. But then I have to remain objective, and not award points out of pure sentiment.

Vehemence career and approach to melodic death metal has always been non-linear. After a widely acknowledged breakthrough God Was Created, its follow-up Helping the World to See has been reviled for its deathcore tendencies. And after that the band seized to be. Musically speaking, they have always tried to carve out their own way mixing up Swedish melodic death metal with American harsher hardcore. To some it is a blessing, to others abomination, others (Black Dahlia Murder) made a career out of it. Vehemence has never had an easy path, and it does not seem to be starting it with Forward Without Motion. Guitar work which has gone into this album must have indeed required all 9 years it took between two albums. Each, and almost every one, song on Forward Without Motion packs enough riffs in melodies in it for another band to last a whole album. Not to get it all smeared in a blur, a lot of discipline was needed. That self-restraint was partially exercised and helped syncopated and nervy Imagining the Loss progress to a harmonized lead after going through a crazy waltz. Powerful prominent epic melody opens up Murdered by the Earth, the composition which stays interesting through all of its twists. And when you think A Dark Figure in the Distance will be a somber continuation of the end of In the Shadows We Dwell, the song does start softer and semi-acoustic, but then it blows into edgy hardcore, growing ever more assertive.

At times, guilty, I was not able to figure out the path. Dark and weird Jim the Prophet never clicked, closer There Are So Many Reasons to Give up on Religion is just a disorderly pile (although I loved the lyrical message). I do not get the title of She Fucks Like She’s Alive (I do not appreciate the lyrical message and I am no purist), and the best part of that song was its subdued close. But then, not always being able to delve into a song from the start, made for the multiple listening sessions. Vocals is another matter holding Forward Without Motion back. Never been blessed with fantastic growls Nathan Gearhart is still not Bjorn Strid or Mikael Stanne. Much more a hardcore vocalist, he is stuck with having to do melodies. It also seemed that Vehemence made a deliberate decision with their sound and production to come off brutal and savage, from the very beginning of I Don’t Want to Look Inside, while a little more polish would have helped in my modest opinion. This overt intentional roughness actually distracts, especially the glass shattering sound of snare and cymbals, and especially in direct, punch to the gut cuts, like In the Shadows We Dwell and It’s All My Fault. Driving powerful riffs of In the Shadows We Dwell, until the closing acoustic guitars, have enough barbarity in them not to ask for extra electricity in production.

The swimming leads, dual guitar overlays, there is so much musicality in Forward Without Motion, despite the fact I personally was not a 100% fan, I could not deny the obvious quality present here.

Killing Songs :
I Don't Want to Look Inside, Murdered by the Earth, In the Shadows We Dwell, A Dark Figure in the Distance
Alex quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Vehemence that we have reviewed:
Vehemence - God Was Created reviewed by Kayla and quoted 89 / 100
Vehemence - Helping the World to See reviewed by Alex and quoted 82 / 100
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