Written by: PP on 10/01/2015 20:15:49

Raunchy's tenure on the Danish metal scene has always been marked by flying underneath the radar. While most of their records have received some critical acclaim - with 2008's "Wasteland Discotheque" being one of the finest metal albums produced in Denmark to date - they inexplicably fall out of discussion whenever people discuss music over here. Perhaps it's their seamless fusion of pop elements with a distinctly metal sound that puts off people from liking their music on more than a temporary basis, perhaps it's their constant evolution as a band from album-to-album, but either way, it's rather surprising that Raunchy aren't a much bigger band considering the consistency of their albums and their relatively accessible brand of metal overall. Well, perhaps sixth album "Vices.Virtues.Visions" may be the one where all of that changes once and for all. It may not be as jammed with urgency and convincing pop metal onslaught as "Wasteland Discotheque", but in other ways it might just be their best album to date, at least in terms of technical proficiency and from a songwriter's perspective.

It is the first record with a new vocalist after the departure of Kasper Thomsen, who has sung on all albums since sophomore record "Confusion Bay" in 2004. He is replaced by Mike Semesky of The HAARP Machine, which was initially seen as a curious fit given the progressive/experimental djent leaning of that band, but he might even be a better fit for Raunchy than Kasper Thomsen ever was. For starters, his clean vocals throughout the album are absolutely back-chilling, delivering some of the most awe-inspiring mid-range clean vocals I've ever heard on a record by a Danish band. Parallels to the haunting industrial choruses of Fear Factory are all over the place, but especially tracks like "I, Avarice", "Anesthesia Throne" and "Frozen Earth" provide examples of sheer brilliance in this department with fantastic interplay with the rest of the instrumentation.

Speaking of which, on "Vices.Virtues.Visions", Raunchy experiment with a number of different approach in terms of riffage. Opener "Eyes of A Storm", for instance, opts for whirlwind thrash riffs and killer leads that recall Unearth's dynamics on their technical masterpieces as of late. Technical metalcore vibes are all of the place, but at the same time, twin-guitar melodies in the vein of Soilwork and In Flames are also found on tracks like "Anesthesia Throne". Elsewhere, the band borrow from progressive death metal bands like Opeth, especially sections on "Truth Taker" point in this direction, but they contrast this with pop melodies that aren't a far cry from Dead By April, just to underline the breadth of expression ranging from track to track.

Some have decried the band's extensive reliance of Semesky's clean vocal melodies, but it would simply be ridiculous not to utilize them given how downright incredible some of his choruses are. When merged together with the fact that most songs are rather ambitious, stretching well beyond the five-minute mark, it's not like we're dealing with pop metal at all rather than brief incursions into that realm in the midst of tracks. That's also why the songs are so varied and satisfying by their nature: each song presents a multitude of passages and sections flowing together dynamically that reward the listener with a fulfilling listening experience.

The soundscape is still heavily digitized, with plenty of synths ranging from eurodance melodies to general symphonic ambiance to mere industrial thumping. Fortunately, the band has identified a solid balance between them and the rest of the instrumentation, meaning they are standing on equal footing with thrashy riffage and the sublime vocal work throughout the album.

In the end, "Vices.Virtues.Visions" is a classic Raunchy album. It has a distinct modern metal vibe, which borrows from a plethora of genres ranging from metalcore to pop metal to arrive at an expression which is probably closest to the soundscape of Sonic Syndicate or Sybreed. But more importantly, the addition of Semesky on vocals means the band has taken an aggressive step forward in being better vocally, which has always been one of the more shaky parts about the Raunchy sound overall. The result is an album with a number of mammoth hits that should help Raunchy make remarkable impact internationally, especially now with the backing of Massacre Records for this release.

Download: "I, Avarice"; "Anesthesia Throne"; "Digital Dreamer"; "Truth Taker"; "Frozen Earth"
For the fans of: Sonic Syndicate, Sybreed, Mnemic, Dead By April, Fear Factory
Listen: Facebook

Release date 14.11.2014
Massacre Records

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