Unfortunately, heavy music these days can, in places, be somewhat predictable. Prog means the songs will likely be long and in odd time signatures. Metalcore means there’ll be a bit of singing and bit of screaming and the guitars will likely be in Drop C or Drop B tuning. Tech Metal means guitars will be widdly and so on and so forth.
Which is why, when looking through a list of EP’s I thought I could review this week, I picked VNDTA’s. It was advertised as Alt Metal. I haven’t a clue what Alt Metal is. I assume it stands for Alternative Metal, but even then I can’t accurately depict what that may mean as I have always thought ALL metal was alternative anyway.
Well, the reality is that if this is what Alt Metal is, I like it. I like it A LOT.
Hailing from Hertfordshire, VNDTA are: Megan Targett (Vocals), Jay Bacon (Guitars), Callan Hughes (Guitars) and Willem Mason-Geraghty (drums). Now, I will admit I know a few people who would see that first band member and instantly be unsure about whether or not they would be into this release; before they have even heard a note. For some bizarre and unknown reason some people cannot get beyond a Female fronted metal band OR they have a preconceived notion it’s all going to be very Nightwish and Evanescence. Well, buckle up folks. Because a new wave of metal bands have females at the front and from what I am hearing so far, they are bloody good at it. VNDTA are no different. This is a SCARY EP (in a very good way).
I will admit to not being prepared for EP opener and title track ‘Pale Glow’. It isn’t a punch in the face. It’s a punch in the face from a heavyweight boxer. A punch in the face from a heavyweight boxer without padded gloves on. A huge riff. A driving drum pattern and a truly scary voice. Megan Targett has PIPES. There is a big discordant sounding chorus which shows the girl can sing as well as growl. It is savagery in 4 minutes, rivalling trail blazers Arch Enemy and another recent female fronted export Jinjer for ferocity.
‘Excuses’ is up next. This track has a real Tesseract feel to it. The verse is melodic, and the palm muted Djenty riff will have you bobbing your head pretty sharpish before a vicious chorus kicks in “Excuses, excuses I’ve heard them before, but I don’t see shackles holding you to the floor, Excuses Excuses I’m losing out, from all of your reasons for letting me down”. I’m nodding my head at this point. VNDTA are good. Excuses also comes with a video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzuvJJwQHM8
‘Swine’ is next. A Nu-Metal riff fires the track in to action. Targett is singing again here, quite Christina Scabbia-esque in her approach to the verses, with some dirty bass in the background (which I assume is provided by one of the guitarists on the recording). The verse is a false sense of security though as the rest of the track is distinctly chaotic and very Slipknot-esque. It’s a joy to listen to. There is a real feel of hatred and anger in the vocal delivery and Bacon and Hughes have that cutting guitar tone which makes the clarity near perfect. The track breaks down at 3:15 “Look in to my eyes, tell me all your lies,” before a pure aural assault begins. It’s disturbing, but in such a good way. Again, ‘Swine’ has a music video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RMBbx_nSskY
‘Martyr’ is vile. Again, in a good way. Aggressive, powerful, chaotic and dripping with technical proficiency. Riffs absolutely everywhere. Now I have adjusted to Targett’s voice I’m starting to really appreciate her qualities as a front woman. Frankly, she’s better than a lot of men in the genre at the moment. Her range, the way she switches between styles and the absolute power is unnerving. She is a powerhouse. The beat down at 2:50 will cause injuries at shows. People won’t be able to stop themselves flailing their arms around. A surprising quiet outro gives you a breather from this monster you’re listening to.
‘Rare Breed’ is about as close to standard Metalcore we get on this EP. It’s ALMOST radio friendly, at least for the first minute until Megan screams “B**** Please!” at the end of chorus. I love the creepy as hell middle part of this track which appears at about 2:25. The jarring guitar riff accompanying Megan’s twisted vocals sounds quite scary, especially as the last line is “But you just spread your legs, b****!” before a riff which would be suitable in the elevator to hell.
‘Leeches’ opens up with one hella sludgy riff before a more palatable djenty riff drives through the verse. Targetts great singing voice is again revealed in the chorus. On this track the drumming is a personal highlight for me. Mason-Geraghty clearly has skills and I imagine VNDTA’s live shows take a lot out of him. His creativity is certainly on show here. There is a very Lamb of God passage in this track (at about 2:40) which is absolutely savage.
Closer ‘Virus’ begins with an open chorded guitar part before Targett screams “I AM A VIRUS!” The verse is aggressive and the chorus almost pop-like with the vocal melody. At around 1:40 there’s a big breakdown reminiscent of current era Architects mixed with some Suicide Silence which will undoubtedly pull favour with those who enjoy slinging their arms at a show. With a big chorus to finish, I imagine VNDTA will close with this song live and it would be a fitting closer to any metal bands show. It’s certainly a fitting closer to this excellent EP.
In summary this EP has everything you’re looking for in a modern metal release. Technical drumming, big riffs, aggressive (nay terrifying) vocal delivery and superb production. If the reason VNDTA are branded as “Alt Metal” is because they have a female fronting the band, then you can bet your bottom dollar before long it won’t be “Alt”. The Ladies are taking over metal and oh my days are they doing a bloody good job.
Find out more from VNDTA at the following link: