Unbalanced For Mankind


Cellar Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Tom Araya, what hath you and your band Slayer wrought?

Back in the glory days of metal, you, along with scores of other bands, proved that originality and imagination were by no means dead, and you consistently delivered the goods to further your claim. What you ended up spawning were dozens upon dozens of bands who took your own original sound and hammered it out to their own needs. In time, the clones started to be the musical equivalent of a photocopy of a photocopy -- that is, somewhat akin to the original, though growing fuzzier with each knockoff.

I kind of got that feeling when listening to Vehement's release my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Unbalanced For Mankind. Hailing from the death metal capital of the world - Downers Grove, Illinois - this trio produces songs that will please fans of the genre, even if it doesn't fully satisfy them. (I know the Downers Grove area pretty well, having gone to college a short drive away from the city. Lovely place, with shopping malls as far as the eye can see.)

I'd love to do nothing more than spew praise about the band - vocalist/bassist Bno, guitarist "Guitarzan" Mike and drummer John Crazylegs - if only because they live within an hour or so's drive from me, and the last thing I want is to have them on my doorstep ready to kick the crap out of me for slamming them. But the more I lstened to Unbalanced For Mankind, I wondered why the band didn't try to forge their own path instead of treading upon others' ghosts. Think Slayer meets Black Sabbath, then remove the demonic imagery.

There are some signs of promise with Vehement. The opening track "Immaculate Entrapment" dares to suggest that they could be seen as a contender for the big picture when metal makes its commercial comeback. Add to this the incredible guitar work on the instrumental "Creation," and you're given some good reasons to smile.

Ah, but Vehement makes the same mistake that many other bands have made before them - namely, they rest on their laurels and opt to stick to formulatic songwriting instead of attempting to push the envelope into something more daring and spontaneous. Tracks like "Inhale The Mist," "Overtrolled" and "Prepare For War" suffer from this fate - and in the end, spells the undoing of the album.

It's not that Vehement is a bad group, though they do follow all the steps to becoming a death metal band to the "T." But they are a young band, and I tend to think they are still struggling to find their own unique musical roots. If Unbalanced For Mankind serves merely as a springboard on this journey, then Vehement will surely have a solid future ahead of them. But if this is their musical roadmap, I fear that they're going to get swallowed up by the same black hole that has captured countless other bands.

Rating: C-

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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cellar Records, and is used for informational purposes only.