Vehemence – Forward Without Motion (2015)

I’ve been waiting a very long time for these Arizonian progressive/melodic brutal death metallers to release a new album, especially considering the fact that God Was Created was definitely one of the best death metal efforts of the last decade. At least it was in my book. But then they kind of came out with a really so-so effort in Helping The World To See, which helped me to see that they couldn’t top the majesty of God Was Created. As a matter of fact, they would need to have to devote at least a decade or more to writing and perfecting music in order to get close to the level of awesomeness achieved with that record. Well, that’s exactly what happened, and the results speak for themselves. While Vehemence didn’t devote ten years to the crafting of this album, they did spend half that amount, which certainly says something for the quality of the music. I mean, from the very start of the record we are hit with “I Don’t Want To Look Inside” (7:08) which is more or less a tour-de-force of everything we’ve loved from these guys. It’s most certainly brutal, yet so much more than that. In fact, brutal doesn’t even do such a tasteful masterpiece of this nature justice. I had to listen to the fucking thing three times before it finally clicked, and now that I’m hearing it pleasantly displayed from my wonderful laptop speakers (Tuned by Skullcandy of course) I’m literally blown away by the sheer viscosity of this recording. So what were we talking about again? Oh, yes. The album’s opener. As I mentioned, the track was quite familiar territory as far as death metal was concerned, but there were just so many amazing layers, so much progression in the chords, and literal melody after melody of mouth-watering flavor. Folks, this is what I expect from death metal, and it’s a profoundly high bar to reach. These guys don’t even seem to know genre boundaries, as we have the almost death/doom mentality of “Jim The Prophet” (5:26) which reminds me of Swallow The Sun at their very best. But we’re talking about Vehemence, right? Of course we are. These guys still manage to kick up the drums and make flames spout forth from the guitar as hefty vocals bellow out from the frontman. But that’s not all “Jim The Prophet” is, folks. As I mentioned, Vehemence actually write music that progresses from riff to the next, which brings many different moods into the music. There’s even something here that feels a little breakdownish, but as it opens up just one of this album’s UNREAL solo efforts; I wouldn’t care if a gang vocal backed that section. There’s just so much being done here that it would literally take a archaeologist with his satchel full of tools to be able to unearth it properly. I’m telling you, if the world has forgotten all about Vehemence for the past decade; they surely won’t after hearing this monolith. I can’t literally believe just what I’m hearing, and it’s admittedly very hard to explain. Just imagine, if you will a band that gets everything right. The drum work is absolutely phenomenal here, and it’s just as big a part as the wonderful guitar compositions, which can become anything from razor-sharp death riffs, to extravagantly colorful audio messages from the astral realms. It’s most definitely what you would call a “Brutiful” record and would sound as good without the vocal sections as it does with them. As for those vocal sections, we’re not getting the kind of pummel you over the head vocal approach all the time, but with tracks here like “A Dark Figure In The Distance” (8:16) we’re not exactly getting a pummel you over the head album – nor should we. Forward Without Motion is just as equally brainy as it is devastating, and I feel that it blurs the line between death metal and abstract art. I’m reminded of Sculptured quite a bit in some areas, which has always been one of my favorite death metal acts, and that’s a band I’d really like to be reminded more of. There are just so many great things about this one, I can’t put into perspective with mere words. When I heard the ending riff melodies in “A Dark Figure In The Distance” I was literally reminded of that great section at the end of Opeth’s “Deliverance” (the song, not the album itself) and that just felt good to me as a metal listener in general. Pound for pound, this is just a wonderful record and I wouldn’t have expected anything less from the guys who wrote God Was Created. There’s nine tracks on the normal release, but you’ll get two re-recorded tracks from the band’s first album, The Thoughts Of Which I Hide, which sound much better than the originals and feel like they belong here, especially “Reconditioning The Flock” (11:11) which is more than worth what you’re going to pay for this album. This special version of the disc actually spans to seventy minutes, which you will absolutely love to death. Without question, Vehemence’s Forward Without Motion is my death metal album of the year and I highly recommend that you buy a copy immediately. This is what hard work and immeasurable effort sounds like, as the band have not only created a record that is on par with God Was Created, but a record that arguably might be even better.

(11 Tracks, 70:00)

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