Sky Exile

I recently discovered Texas’s Vex on a Bindrune/Eihwaz Recordings compilation as the track “To Anacreon (Strangling the Muse)”  completely enthralled me, and reminded me of Cales, (a killer, folky Root side project from a few years ago). So I picked up the band’s 2013 album Memorious, and immediately loved it and waited with baited breath for the new album the track came from.

Vex’s style is hard to sum up. At its heart its a sort of soaring, melodic, proggy, death/black metal. Structurally, it’s not unlike bands like early Opeth, Agalloch, The Living Fields or Wayfarer,  and one could feasibly hear former label mates Nechochwen and  Obsequiae in the tangled but majestic, naturalistic riffs, and that’s only a very loose comparison, as Vex are a shifty, skillful bunch that refuse to be locked into a style or category. Vocally, things are as varied as the music with big deep growls, high pitched scream and some solid clean croons and a nice robust production that’s big, earthy and jangly yet clear. And it all comes together perfectly.

After an intro, the aforementioned “To Anacreon (Strangling the Muse)” gets things going, and boy is that opening riff a doozy. A big, rollicking, rolling riff to sway your luscious locks to. And it’s set between equal parts atmospheric black blasts and some heartfelt clean vocals. After another interlude, “Empyrean”, “Antiethical Age” delivers  a nice slower, saunter with more graceful  clean vocals, such a hard thing to nail in metal, but they balance perfectly with some nice deep growls amid the song’s more laid back delivery.

The nine minute “Nowhere Near” is a sumptuous, sprawling number that’s hard to digest in one sitting, but if you wait till the fall, throw on some headphones and go for a walk, I imagine, the song and its mesmerizing mid section, simply comes to life. “The Cygnus Light” is a shorter, more digestible melodic death metal track,  that’s daresay, catchy in the big scheme of things., even with its atmospheric close. The shifty, meandering “Solar Sacrament” might be the only song on the album that does not truly hold my interest, but “Dark Skies Painted” gets my attention back and realistically could have ended the album. However, we get three more songs  (“30 Miles from Here”, more stern “August 11th” and instrumental closer “Astral Burial”) that push the album close to an hours duration, and frankly they seem a bit extraneous, as  albums early brilliant tracks are hard to overcome.

Maybe influenced by the video above for the excellent “Dark Skies Painted”,when I listen to Sky Burial, I cant help but picture lush rolling fields edged with meadows and thick, vine overrun woods but with a grey sky filled with impending storms looming over head. It’s a perfect balance of warm/tranquil and foreboding, but elegant, dreamy  and beautiful all at once, and one of the more engaging albums of the year.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 3rd, 2016


  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I liked this track a lot.

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