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Album Reviews : Vessel – Introspective

By on April 29, 2013

810571097-1Created as a musical project in Victoria, Australia, and with guest vocals from ex-Iron Maiden singer, Blaze Bayley (who became the vocalist for the band from 1994 – 1999 while Bruce Dickinson focused on his solo career), as well as members from Melbourne death metal ban, Ordnance, Vessel is an interesting band to say the least. There is a lot of experimentation used throughout this digital release, which was shared via their main website and their Facebook page.

Introspective is a highly ambitious debut. Labelled as simply a ‘heavy metal band’, there is a lot more to Vessel than what you’d initially think. Their style is that of a heavy metal hybrid with an almost gothic-grunge sound to it in parts. There is a real stylistic sound to this album that I like, but something that is rather difficult to pin down to any single musical source. It is an album that requires more than one listen through to properly appreciate what the band has achieved here.

There are a fair amount of progressive elements used throughout the songs. In the opening track “Werewolf” alone, you’re exposed to a variety of styles, including heavy metal, progressive rock, and heavily distorted backing guitars that recall an almost grunge style. You can see a clear inspiration of progressive metal in the lyrics and vocal style that Bayley provides. The way his vocals carry throughout the songs recalls Iron Maiden, but there is a distinct difference between Bayley and Dickinson that makes Bayley work so well for this particular group. His pitch is expertly performed and exaggerated where the music requires it, especially on the opening track. His vocals complement the songs well, and heighten an overall cerebral experience.

While similar to “Werewolf”, “Desire Disdain” is almost like a combination of progressive rock and the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son era of Iron Maiden. Being the next couple of tracks on the album, “Masterpiece” and “This Cage” once again challenge the mould of the album. “Masterpiece” opens with a small chime of the cymbal before a heavily distorted guitar riff trails in. It isn’t a particularly bad track, but there’s a lack of consistency on this record that makes it suffer a little. And unfortunately, this track simply doesn’t live up to its name. “This Cage” is even more experimental. Experimentation can be a risky area. Occasionally, it can prove to be a great move that helps elevate bands to noticeable heights. Other times, it can be unnecessary and overdone. Unfortunately, I feel this falls into the latter. The track is redeemed, however, during the mid-section where it takes on a traditional heavy metal feel, but for those expecting an album in the vein of Iron Maiden or Judas Priest you will most likely be disappointed.

“Introspective”, a synth-inspired instrumental, transitions well into “Elements”, which alongside “Werewolf” is one of the bands stronger tracks. With a tight production, and a sound that recalls Saxon, “Elements” is one of the album’s finer tracks.

After the great track that was “Elements”, I expected this album to end with a bang, but with “Love is a Catastrophe” Vessel instead opted for an acoustic melody. While a beautifully produced track, nonetheless, the album wasn’t given its proper due with how it ended here.

Mixed and mastered by Lord Tim (frontman for Lord), the production of Introspective, while strong for the majority of the record, does falter in certain areas. The continual shifts throughout each individual song from soft to heavy don’t meld as seamlessly as you’d hope, and it’s a shame, really. There were some fantastic ideas explored here, but just not well enough.

I can respect Vessel for what they’ve done here, but the musicianship feels rather uninspired, and if not for Blaze Bayley’s vocals (who is the clear standout of this album), the guitars and drums would merely drone on without much purpose. For a heavy metal record, Introspective doesn’t feel as if it has the power or ‘bollocks’, as the Brits say, to help redeem the record from where it falters.

Band: Vessel
Album: Introspective
Year: 2012
Genre: Heavy metal
Label: Independent
Origin: Australia

Track list:
1. Werewolf
2. Desire Disdain
3. Masterpiece
4. This Cage
5. Introspective
6. Elements


Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.