Saturday, July 20, 2024

Vicious Nature – VIII

Midlands heavy metal act Vicious Nature’s members had previous form with stalwarts on the scene such as Marshall Law, Cloven Hoof and Cerebral Fix – Groups that skirted the New Wavy of Heavy Metal scene and beyond, released a fair-few records in their day, but ultimately knocked it on the head due to the precarious business side of the mainstream music industry.

Combining their strengths and talents, the original collective got together back in 2012, and took the independent route, having knocking up a handful of EPs, plus 7″ limited edition vinyl and DVD releases since then. On the live front, they’ve gigging throughout the UK and Europe performing at festivals such as Hammerfest H.R.H METAL, supporting acts as diverse as the Graham Bonnett Band, Firewind and Orange Goblin, while receiving radio airplay even further afield.

A four piece since the beginning, guitarist Andy Southwell and drummer Jon ‘JB” Brown’ remain a constant within the band. That stated, it’s only a few years back that heath concerns lead to Mark Culley withdrawing from active duty, with Declan Parry –  another Marshall Law member – taking his place on bass. More concerningly perhaps, front man and vocalist Andy Pyke, disillusioned by the music business and wanting to spend more time with family, decided to call it a day at the tail-end of 2021.

Love them or loath them, and sometimes in equal measures, but singers front the vision of a what we perceive to be a band’s identity. Too often that can be how they look and their stage mannerisms rather than what counts: their vocal ability and the conviction with which they sing their songs.

Vocalists as far afield as Australia expressed interest, fate intervened, and they found someone closer to home in Matt Gore, singer with fellow Midlands band The Mighty Wraith. Prior to that, however, they released VIII featuring six tracks of tooled-up, razor-sharp, fully-functioning heavy metal from the band, that we here give an overdue appraisal.

That the work commences with ‘Intro’, a track that proves very much what it says on the tin, but perhaps musically not quite what the listener might be expecting – Primarily guitar arpeggios and bass with further fragments of guitar melodies being added that create an air of suspense – That this doesn’t go on longer, if not to epic lengths but if only to fulfil the sense of mystery, is a shame. Frankly, I’d like to here it played on a grand piano, the way guitars and bass could be transposed to suit that instrument could really be something.

But enough already, let’s rock, let’s ‘Rise Up’, or at least give it a listen. With military precision, instruments lock in and attack with a modern metal edge, and there’s also a melodic twist that prevents any pedestrian tones settling in. This plays through once Pyke’s vocals come on, angry but clear, anthemic come the chorus, musically going through some pretty complex changes along the way.

‘When The Devil Calls’ sounds like a thousand stampeding demons answering their master’s summons on an empty stomach, then halfway in cuts short, a slow guitar and piece section echoing ‘Intro’ enters before Andy Southwell takes lightspeed runs down his guitar followed by a return to stomping charges, and shouted vocals that have a larger-than-life cartoon character, and I find fun, though that may not be what the band intended.

‘Psychotic’ as its title might suggest has a certain schizophrenic feel, veering between heavy Eddie Van Halen inspired riffage, twisted slower psychedelic metal, and thrashier military elements. Lyrically, there are some inspired lyrics alongside the venom spewed, really catchy too, around three minutes in Southwell takes that an inspired step further.

‘The Silence That Kills’ swings like a mother, guitars twist and turn as if encircling galactic wormholes only to fall back tumbling against a series of chords, the rhythm section protectively battering back against it all, while Pike pitches both high-end and guttural vocals, that as with a number of these songs come across somewhat euphorically, and while as enigmatic as most lyrics are, tend to relate with coping in the world we find ourselves in, or what those far younger than I refer to as one’s wellbeing.

A live rendition of ‘System Of Disorder’ sounds decidedly Iron Maiden like, with a clean audible sound and rounds out a rather neat package for those seeking modern metal performed by skilled seasoned performers. For those of us older, jaded rock warriors, these tracks go beyond the obvious. Sure, they pack clout, but there are subtle nuances brought to bear also, that add gravitas, and you might even find you can sing along.

To purchase VIII, alongside other Vicious Nature merchandise and for further information click here.
Vicious Nature will play the Dementia Aware Festival at Billesley Rock Club in Kings Heath, Birmingham, on Saturday 15th July - For more information click here.

Check out the video to the original recording of ‘System Of Disorder’ below.
Paul H Birch
Paul H Birch
RAMzine Senior Writer - Writer of fiction, faction and fact, has edited several newsstand magazines. He declares himself a hack for hire but refuses to compromise on the subject of music.

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