By El Chief

Erdve has a problem with its vocalist. It's so pronounced that blunts the Lithuanian foursome's debut, "Vaitojimas," from being better than an average output. You see, Erdve prides itself as being something more than just an ordinary hardcore band. But, vocalist Vaidotas only knows how to straight-ahead scream like every hardcore singer ever.

Vaidotas' limited style comes into conflict whenever Erdve strays from their hardcore roots. That wouldn't be the problem that it is, except for the fact that the band often uses hardcore's limited range as a base to get to a much more musically interesting output combining black metal and sludge. Only one track on "Vaitojimas" can be called hardcore ("Prievarta"), and it rips, thanks to the band finally playing something in Vaidotas' wheelhouse.

Since Vaidotas also plays guitar for Erdve, it's not as simple fix as replacing the singer. Plus, I hate the idea of recommending that. Instead, I suggest he listen more intently to another singer whose range was initially just as limited—Phil Anselmo. I consider Pantera to be a progenitor for the hardcore sound of the '90s, but he was eventually able to soften his chops enough to sound convincing in other genres, namely the Southern sludge favored by Down. Another singer in the same vein is Behemoth's Nergal. He's at least learned to simply talk whenever the music calls for a slower tempo.

The vocals aren't the only issue with "Vaitojimas," but it is the most pressing. A secondary issue for the group to work on is with their transitions. The music exploration and momentum in "Isnara" is undone every time the sound grinds to a halt because the group can't pull off either a change in tempo or chord. That's an issue that a lot of new bands have, and one that will undoubtedly be fixed the more Erdve plays together. 

It may seem like I disliked "Vaitojimas," but I didn't. Mostly, I hail Erdve for sailing into uncharted waters. I just hope that next time they can employ better navigation.