“Sky Exile”

By Dr. Abner Mality

It took a while before I remembered the name of Vex…I reviewed this Texas band a few years ago. Now they cross my path again with “Sky Exile”. I remember them as being a rather unique and progressive band. Well, they still are, but their approach has changed somewhat

Vex play a sort of death metal than can truly be called “expansive”. There’s something about that reminds me of an open sky and a wide horizon. They deal in tones and chords that are very heavy yet not oppressive. There is nothing brutal or insanely furious about it. “Panoramic” and “atmospheric” are two other words that come to mind. On “Sky Exile”, they mix their progressive death metal with influences from post-metal bands like Cult of Luna and Rosetta. Before that causes you rivet-heads to turn away, realize that at all times Vex is heavier than those bands and they still know how to pound the drums with a vengeance. But melody and atmosphere do play a huge part in their music.

The album is composed of long tunes interspersed with brief soundscapes. “Dry River Days” bewitching heavy chords lead into a focused and occasionally aggressive “To Anacreon” (Strangling the Muse). The vocals are mostly harsh but do stray occasionally to very melodic realms. Once in a while, I find the excursions into acoustics and laid back minor key guitar dull, but then the album picks up again with some monster crushing riffs. “The Cygnus Light” and “30 Miles From Here” are two great examples of how these guys concoct intelligent, involving music.

Agalloch has broken up after many years of creating intriguing music. Well, on “Sky Exile”, Vex announce that they are a suitable replacement.