Album: Personalities – EP
While no one likes to admit it for fear of being perceived as “two-faced,” we all have personalities we adopt and employ for certain situations. Think about it: you’re not the same person at a job interview as you are when you’re out with your friends, right? If you are, I feel kind of bad for your friends (or your interviewer). It isn’t a crime to behave this way—in fact some people would argue it is nothing short of necessary to do in order to get by these days. Where you act certain ways and employ certain personas to fit the proper situations, Vacive are a band who are unapologetically themselves. Loaded with passion, punch and raw, ruthless power, this Culpepper quartet know not the meaning of “moderation” or “compromise,” roaring forth on a platform of malicious, murky metalcore filled out with a penchant for floral, vivacious post-hardcore and earnest, honest emotion.
Vacive—a Latin word from the root vacui, meaning “pertaining to emptiness; a void”—is a misleading name for a band so packed with energy and emotion. Drawing enormous influence from metalcore powerhouses Like Moths to Flames and The Devil Wears Prada, the quartet combine bouncy grooves and punchy breakdowns with tastefully melodic choruses and hints of atmosphere. Percussionist Kyle Benson likens himself to the energizer bunny—as once he starts with the dizzying breakdown on “Life (After) Death,” he doesn’t stop. Blasting through “Me, Myself & I” with fleet footwork and quick fills, Benson comes the closest to calm he gets during the transitions into and out of the catchy, bouncy chorus to “Deadbeat.” Beyond that, Benson is the hopped-up heart of Vacive, working diligently with bassist Michael Nakon to provide a strong, fluid low end that allows the band to oscillate back and forth between jarring heaviness and quick, catchy riffs and grooves—provided by guitarist and clean vocalist Jason Tyler. Tyler’s work—especially on “Heedless” is intense and immaculate. Writing grisly, low-down-and-dirty grooves just as expertly as he crafts soaring, cleanly-plucked leads, Tyler’s writing is nothing short of masterful—even if the recording quality of his furious fretwork leaves a little to be desired. No matter how gargantuan his grooves or ruthless his riffs, they all sound just slightly flat—an effect that is amplified by listening through headphones.
Where Vacive’s musicians are varied and dynamic when it comes to moving between softness and brutality, frontman Bailey Austin is an absolute tank. Austin’s growls, shrieks and screams play beautifully off of the instrumental energy on Personalities, feeling so tangible and terrifying that the listener can practically feel Austin’s spit on their face and his breath in their ears. Where Austin is a vocal juggernaut, Tyler plays double duty, adding soft, soothing choruses and bridges into the mix. His work is especially noteworthy on “Maasks,” where his clean, crooning voice at the end of the song is guaranteed to get stuck in the listener’s head. Tyler’s vocals work in dialectic harmony with Austin’s—as the listener feels nearly overwhelmed by Austin’s incredible aggression, Tyler saves the day, soothing their sore ears. Together, Austin and Tyler take a harsh/clean vocal dynamic similar to that of Like Moths to Flames and, arguably, do it even better—as Austin’s low, lurid and grisly vocals sound like one hundred pissed grizzly bears roaring in unison.
If it were only a question of writing, Vacive’s debut EP would be a miraculous display of prodigal talent in a crowded scene. Even with the slightly flat tones (which sound even more squished through headphones), the only real flaw found within Personalities is that there isn’t enough of it to go around. By the time the listener really warms up to the group’s dynamic and unique production, “Maasks” is nearing its end—which ultimately results in little more than slight disappointment and several repeated listens. Vacive find themselves at the crossroads of passion, power and prodigal songwriting, crafting something written wondrously and delivered in a slightly gritty fashion—making them a band the entire heavy music community is sure to be watching very carefully.
For Fans Of: Like Moths to Flames, The Devil Wears Prada, Gideon, Fit For a King
By: Connor Welsh