Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Vernian Process, Behold The Machine (2009)


To begin with some good things about this album. First of all, it’s free to download, from the band's website, which can’t be bad. The cover design is rather fine (don't you think?), and the concept—a properly Steampunky snfal Goth-rock—is a winning one. And again: several members of the band can really play their instruments. The drummer is good, although s/he needs either a better drumkit or else a producer capable of mixing the percussion in properly. The guitars are well played, and whoever’s in charge of the synthesiser manages some interesting effects. But the lead vocalist has a grating, moaning, warbly-uncertain sort of voice, and he's not helped in his self-appointed task by the fact that whenever the melody line goes up, particularly if it leaps a sizeable interval, he slips sometimes as much as a semitone off key. (On ‘I Am The Sea’ he’s painfully off-key almost all the way through.) I suspect he knows he can’t really sing, because he frequently slips into that fallback for bad singers, chanty! overemphatic! declamation! And there’s only so far the band can go to give life to a whole series of musical clichés: minor key triplets, overegged doominess, clanking sound effects in the background, musical quotation from Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue’, earnest spoken interludes (‘to hell with it all!’ ‘we fight for a cause that we know is right’) that want to be intense but come off as risible. The lyrics are mostly dreadful (‘It’s a new dark age’ ‘Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide!’ ‘There’s no hope in our hearts’) with occasional touches of more interesting, or promising (‘1857 forever changed my life …’) And tracks 11-13 sound like they were recorded by a completely different band: middle-of-the-road bobbins.

Overall, and though it's not entirely without promise, in the end it’s pretty watery stuff. On the other hand the insertion of that middle-class-youth-piano standby Joplin’s ‘Maple Leaf Rag’, though incongruous, is rather good. And the last track, the multi-part 'The Maiden Flight' is not bad at all, despite opening with intersecting piano lines rather after the manner of 'Lick My Love Pump'.

6 comments:

餐廳 said...

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Vernian Process said...

Thanks for the honest review. Just a few notes. That drummer, doesn't exist. It is all Addictive Drums. Actually almost everything on the album was performed by myself (the off-key singer), and Martin my guitarist/sound engineer. We do have a full live lineup however including a drummer. But none of them were on board when we wrote this album. The very last track does have our keyboardist playing the piano parts, but everything else is just the two of us. The project started as a solo thing for me to just mess around with ideas, and I released two albums prior to this one, which imho weren't all that great. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a trained vocalist, but I did the best I could, and hopefully with practice our next album will have better vocals. Also bear in mind that this isn't a finished album, what you reviewed is our demo version for our fans. The final product will be properly mastered, and some of the tracks will have better vocal takes.

Vernian Process said...
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Vernian Process said...
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Vernian Process said...

Oh and one more thing about the lyrics you quoted. Those are in reference to an RPG by the name Unhallowed Metropolis. Almost everything in that song refers to elements of their game world. Including the line "It's a New Dark Age"

Victoria Webb said...

I like the vocals. In I am the Sea it sounds like Depeche Mode style singing, and yes there could be some vocal work but for the most part it reminds me of EBM. The overstated dramatics and clanking noise adds to its charm. It really sounds to me like Steampunk classical music, mad scientist type nuttery. Without it, it would just be more goth industrial, and while that wouldn't be so bad, it wouldn't be new and interesting and different. I'm all for musicians progressing their talents but I feel they shouldn't ever change their quirkiness.