Vesta Collide seem to have come out of nowhere and burst to life on the scene as a metalcore/post-hardcore band to sit up and notice. It was only November 2016 that Vesta Collide announced their signing with Stay Sick Recordings, and they’ve now released their debut album; New Obsession, on 20th January.
Before we dive in to review New Obsession, Vesta Collide are: Mark Pfromm (vocals), Jacob Matzkows (guitar/vocals), Alex Kuzmanovic (guitar), Alex Honeycutt (bass), and Max Santoro (drums). The band formed in 2014 in Michigan, “through the collapse of previous efforts”, according to the band.
So, New Obsession. Let’s go!
The first track on New Obsession is “Witching Hour” (which had been released prior to the album). Jangles, the rushing of wind and deep reverberations take us to a dark place. There’s a wrestling of demons, with unclean vocals, screams, powerful chords and vicious drums. There’s a glimmer of hope where the darkness lifts; with clean vocals, lighter instrumentation. Into the second verse we feel pulled from one direction to another, a feeling of fighting inside ourselves and being drawn down into heaviness.
“Now I’m dreamless!
Clawing dead skin, my beloved
All I can see is the blood
Regret buries me, it buries me!”
But clarity works hard at clawing through murkiness to reveal itself
“Empty Bodies” is the second track on New Obsession. A wavering wall of metalcore opens the track with killer guitars, layers of vocals, screams and heavy drums. The clean vocals of the first verse feel wandering, leaning into something new, before unclean vocals combine in the pre-chorus.
The “Empty Bodies” chorus hits hard and is a wake-up call with a demanding stepping down melody, screamed vocals and heaviness from drums and guitar. The clean vocals combine.
“Just speak the fuck up!”
Before the second verse is an incredible down-sliding series of chords which sits simply and powerfully in the middle of the song. It’s one of those sit-with-your-mouth-open moments: Wow. As the song continues with this dance of parts, including more impressive guitar and quick-fire drumming, the “wow”-ness grows. It’s a massive song, with a tsunamic sound.
“I Can’t Sleep” at track three kicks off with a growly bassline and bass deliciously turned up to the extreme accompanied with unclean vocals and screaming. A hectic pace is set and we’re taken off on a ride with this song. It feels like a bombardment as well as an attempt to recover:
“You’re just so beautiful and I’m a fucking mess”
The guitars are already so mind-blowing on this album and we’re only at track 3. Not to mention the relentless drumming. Every element is exceptional, setting the track alight. Even in the bridge with a slowing down and a softening, it is done exceptionally well, and the build-up, with ‘gang’ vocals coming in while the lead vocals continue on is emotive and powerful. So impressed.
“When I hear you speak, I hear you talk in melodies.
I can’t sleep. No I can’t sleep tonight..”
“Pretend” is heavier on electronic effects and experimenting with timing. This track has the feel of a confrontation and a challenge.
“I want to feel alive
I scream inside
Just break me free
Let me believe
In everything I’m hiding away
from the world.”
The unclean vocals go deep and heavy and express agonising frustration. There’s a raunchy djent guitar part played before suddenly the heavens part and we’re being sung to by a crowd and instead of fighting, it feels like freedom. What a ride.
The next track is “The Lights” and similar to “Witching Hour” the introduction vibrations and effects feel like we are in something dark. The guitar is incredible. Fire. Amazing. I can’t believe what I’m even hearing. Together with incredible drumming.
“Can you save me now?
Do you believe me now?”
The bridge blows everything wide and feels like an empowerment (“So take the world in your hands”). It’s vocally pretty with light background singing, heavy slow beats, more of an orchestral sound and a slowing of pace. But the guitar and drums return. I’m in love.
Track six is “Away From Here” and begins with a dripping-like guitar. This album is being reviewed in the dark while it rains outside and it’s a very cool aesthetic. Clear and light vocals are focal of this slower-paced song, with strong and deep beats nonetheless.
“Send a sign.
Can you hear me cry?
Are you there?
You’re so distant now.”
The chorus brings in the ‘Vesta Collisions’ with those incredible drums and guitar again. It’s a sad and searching song, speaking about a disconnection, and trying to reach out to someone in an emotional dark place.
“Wherever you are,
Let my voice be your light through the dark.
I’ll be looking.
Wherever you are,
Know this is not the end,
I’m trying to reach you there.”
The vocals do an amazing job of expressing that sense of hopelessness when we can’t make things better for someone we love. Another impressive track.
“Hallucination” is the next track and the pace is lifted. Even in the introduction I’m already in love with this song, courtesy of the guitars, background vocals and the wall of sound. Clearly nothing is done in halves in New Obsession.
When the vocals start there is a sense of resignation and defeat, for both clean and unclean vocals. The tension created is palpable and angst-inducing as the song goes into what feels like a challenging experience, believing something was real and being doubted. The outro is a stand-out section of the song. “Hallucination” has it all: strings, growls, heavy breakdowns, light vocals, sweet sounding chimes.
“Waste Away” starts with a slap in the face and we’re shaken awake to pay attention as screams and heavy guitars grab us. It’s a wake-up call, crying for realisations, to the point of aggression. Piano and clean vocals of the chorus are drowned out by the fire of the verses, including a Korn-esque vocal section. The entire song has the feel of burning it all down to create something new.
Track nine is “Monster Blood”, a(nother) track of New Obsession I would love to know the lyrics of. From taking a breath in after a wavery beginning, “Monster Blood” is relentless. The guitars and drums go hard, as do the screams. Even through the clean vocal sections, the sound is constantly driving forward. Drums and a gang sound of vocals unfold into a poignant bridge, accompanied with drum punctuation and a patient guitar. The powerful outro showcases rapid-fire drumming, a key change and a repeated lyric fading out to silence.
At track ten is “Time Won’t Keep What’s Left Of Us”, which seems to offer more stillness and introspection than the last few tracks. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s still musically strong, particularly blowing me away with the chords leading into the second chorus. Tight drums establish the scene at the bridge, where clean vocals speak, the screams in support underneath.
“I hear the sound,
I scream so loud.
If I should fade,
Take me away”
The song rolls on and it’s hard to keep up, watching this heavy brilliance unfold with mouth wide open. But still it keeps on coming, to the very last second; a quirky vocal shift, screams over dirty percussion, dropping into raw guitar raunch and low growls.
The final song on New Obsession is “Faithless Tongue”. Seconds in and it’s already a guitar playground. A djent sound is played behind screamed vocals, yet it is completely captivating. So captivating that my ears would barely pay attention to anything else (picture my ears with heart emoji eyes). The drums are right there with it and creating a balanced sound where the entire spectrum of vocals can be expressed; morphing from low growls to high clean vocals and back to mid range. The entire piece is just amazing. Yes.
“We will remember you!”
This is a perfect final track on an album which has celebrated exceptional musicality throughout. One could almost imagine that Vesta Collide set themselves a challenge to make an album as densely packed with impressive sound as possible. Every track on New Obsession was “wow”-ing in some way, with the entire album length an intense adventure with attention drawn from one exceptional element to the other.
There was no part of this that felt “meh” or disinteresting. New Obsession was ‘on’ the whole time, even in more sedate tracks. Not one millisecond was wasted or taken for granted.
Just brilliant, and worth the deep dive, on all fronts. Stream New Obsession below.