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Vessel Decimal: “To Be and Not to Be” – shifting effortlessly between accessibility and intensity

Vessel Decimal is a metal band that was founded in Cleveland, Ohio in 2007. “To Be and Not to Be”, is an album that explores different sides of the band’s sound. Opener “Distractors” takes a second to amp up before intense riffs and harsh vocals take over the dark soundscape. The captivating factor is high in both the edgier shoutalongs and the more melodic passages. That style is Vessel Decimal’s bread and butter, and they deliver it very effectively on the album. “Hepatitis” is another memorable track shifting effortlessly between accessibility and intensity, and throwing in killer guitar riffs for good measure.

In addition to the groovy meat and potatoes riffs there are also more complex and intricate parts that add variety. The lyrics seem to address both dark events and more personal, introspective topics. The vocal delivery is passionate, switching between throat-shredding yells and melodic crooning, as the vocalist is in his absolute prime, demonstrating levels of strength and control in his voice. His screams are guttural and ripe with emotion, but understandable in most places, and his clean vocals shine throughout, often venturing into previously unexplored territories.

The biggest strength in Vessel Decimal’s performance is an unparalleled sense of emotion throughout the album. Songs like “The Great Depression,” “Words Of Encouragement” and “Closing Circle” bleed with the singer’s personality, and the closer I’ve listened to the lyrics the more powerful his performances become.

“To Be and Not to Be” consists of eleven tracks and not one of them is of sub-standard quality. I won’t go into detail on every single track here, but I would like to mention a few of the standouts. The first four tracks of the record alone would be worth the price of admission and each of them is destined to stand head and shoulders with the band’s finest work going forward.

Other noteworthy tracks includes “Scenarios of the Unknown” quickly escalates into an ultra-heavy anthem of defiance. The speedy “The Scrambling” is very heavy but super catchy. “Dear Jane” is a mid-tempo acoustic-driven dirge that gives the album a diverse taste.

“Zeroth Place” may be the most menacing sounding thing they’ve done here, while “Closing Circle” is exactly the sort of up-tempo bombast that the band will become known for and is sure to be a huge crowd-pleaser on live shows.

It’s usually difficult to reconcile a band’s talent with any prodigious hype they may receive. This is not the case with Vessel Decimal, as they deliver more or less what everyone promises they would. We live in an age where everyone has the struggle to bring something new, which is actually an omnipotent quest for anyone on any field of media, because we have lived through almost everything in music.

However, Vessel Decimal has brought us really impressive content with massive dynamics, which is reflecting life into our ears – it’s like this album has tracks with huge brutality, dark riffs, but there are classy cleaner vocals and lighter soundscapes somewhere to be found which reminds us there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

The musicianship, drums, riffage and vocals are all top notch. But this is music that requires your attention to be fully appreciated.  The sheer intensity of the instrumentality: brutal then melodic, and then soaring, is dark, complex and ultimately inspiring. Vessel Decimal even has some industrial and punk elements along with their traditional metal sound, just so that you don’t miss out on anything!

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