Worcester is a town known principally for the sauce that bears its name, the final battle of the civil war and its rather imposing cathedral. What it does not have much of a reputation for generally, is the quality of its fuzz rock neo-grunge bands. However, for those in the know, that is a fallacy, as it is also the home to female fronted trio Vault Of Eagles, a band that even that grandmaster of rock himself, Robert Plant, is a fan of.
Already with a handful of singles and EP’s under their belts, the last of which (Plastic Culture Human Vulture) I rather liked, they have released a new single which takes all the foundations they have laid on the previous releases, adds more of pretty much everything, removed any wastage and excess, rolled in some glitter and ended up what easily their most accomplished recordings to date.
And this improvement shows the benefits of adherence to a simple 3 step philosophy; a philosophy that starts from the first chord as Spoonfed Dead begins with a guitar riff that rocks like Godzilla flattening Tokyo with his new fuzz-distortion superpower. A riff is a finely balanced thing, as dependent on the rhythm as the melody. And this band seems to have mastered it completely, with the rhythm section also having the punch of an atom bomb to the face. These are two songs that make you sit up and take notice.
But, back to the plan; big guitars, bass and beats is master stroke one then, something that has worked well for bands immemorial from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin through to Nirvana and Queens of the Stone Age. But this is not where the comparison with these bands stops, for also in common with this rock lineage Vault of Eagles follow up the guitar monstering with the second part of the strategy; lead melodies and vocals that would charm sirens from their watery lairs. The harmonies of sisters Mari and Hattie have always been a key part of the band’s sound, and there is plenty more of this delicious sibling synchronicity, especially on B side track Livin’ With Love which really resonates vocally. But this time out they have also taken the concept of melodic hooks to new levels, cooking them to a purity percentage that Walter White would be proud of and just as addictive as that blue meth.
The final piece of the 3 point masterplan is the ensuring the lyrics do more than sound nice, that they actually say something. Spoonfed Dead is lyrically powerful, a searing indictment of consumerism and advertising, ambiguous enough to enable each listener to take away what they personally find within the song whist Livin’ With Love is an uncomfortable but uplifting look at relationships and the conflicts within. Each song acts as a mood counterpoint to each other, dropping then lifting the listener.
These are two songs that have a raw energy to them, that make you want to shout, punch the air and enjoy what you are listening to. An unpretentious plan it may be that gets us to this point, but this has always been part of the charm of this band. Keep it simple; big riffs, addictive melodies and lyrical depth – why complicate matters?
Review by Ed Dyer