Ah metalcore; what a strange bedfellow you are. You’ve birthed amazing records by bands like Killswitch Engage, Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium but you’re certainly a limited genre to work with. Not many metalcore bands have more than one great album in them and those that do have fully embraced the catchy chorus. Metalcore works best when it’s at its’ most memorable and albums like Alive or Just Breathing, The Poison and Ascendancy have proven that.
So where do Vera Grace fit into metalcore’s grand scheme? Let’s put it this way, the Oxfordshire quintet are going to have to improve their song writing. Metalcore is no longer a young genre so these boys are going to need to work on far more memorable riffs, hooks and chorus’ if they hope to last.
The Lucifer Effect is an EP that just feels like it’s going through the motions. The breakdowns are here, the screaming is here, the extensive use of double-bass drumming is here; it’s simply everything you expect to hear on a metalcore release and at no point does it do anything to surprise the listener.
The big downside to The Lucifer Effect is the lack of hooks. Not once on the entire EP does vocalist Stephen Nulty try anything that would be regarded memorable. He screams his way admirably through the entire record, but you can’t help but think that if he flexed his pipes a little bit with some sung sections that he could have unearthed a hook you could sink your teeth into.
Unfortunately for Nulty, his band isn’t doing an awful lot to help him out. Every song relies on that old metalcore staple of chugging a single chord for an extended period of time. Bands need to understand that if they’re trying to be heavy they need to do more than this. Heaviness comes through a clever use of tone, layering and a strong rhythm section to punctuate the riffs. The sort of musicianship on display here is far too lazy and formulaic.
The sad thing is Vera Grace clearly have the ability to be better than this. The playing isn’t sloppy or hap-hazard; it’s tight and focussed and the brilliant production really shows that. It’s just a shame that the talent has been used to make something we’ve all heard a million times before.
If Vera Grace had songs like The End of Heartache or Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr to their name you could at least appreciate them as memorable song writers, but the unfortunate matter of fact is they’ve produced 4 competent yet forgettable songs that any metalcore band could have written. There is nothing unique, exciting or memorable for fans of heavy music to get enthusiastic about here. Vera Grace don’t even have to do much to improve on their formula either; a simple bit of experimentation in the vocal department or less focus on the single-chord-breakdown could’ve put them on par with their peers, but for now we’ll have to wait until their next release to see if they can truly pull that off.
Vera Grace’s The Lucifer Effect will be independently released by the band on 7/2/2013.