VNV Nation- Chrome
If you’re one of those VNV Nation fans who’ve loved the band since you first heard “Honour” or “Joy” in the clubs and still get teary-eyed whenever you hear Ronan Harris singing about being “too scared to close [his] eyes” on “Legion,” chances are you’re not going to enjoy the band’s newest album. To start with, there are really only two tracks on here that sound remotely like what we can now refer to – without irony – as “classic VNV,” and one of those is the instrumental “Lightwave.” The other, entitled “Entropy,” is the usual pop-flavored EBM we’ve come to expect, starting off with cinematic tension and then building into high-BPM techno and Ronan’s hoarse, dramatic vocals. And that’s it. A trance-inspired instrumental track, and “Entropy.” That leaves eight more tracks, not counting the obligatory ambient introduction. The thing is, as far removed from “Empires” or “Praise the Fallen” as these new synthpop and techno tracks might be, you could still make a convincing argument that they’re better. Yes, the backing track to “Chrome” is so relentlessly major key that it sounds less like EBM than the Pet Shop Boys, but for the first time Ronan’s voice is more on key than off, and it no longer sounds like the physical effort of singing and/or the overwrought sincerity of his vocals is about to force him to break off into a coughing fit. “Arena” and “Endless Skies” fill the requisite “ballad” slots, with the bittersweet vocals of the former winning out over the New Age keyboards of the latter, while “Homeward” is an inoffensive high energy number a bit reminiscent of the previous album’s hit “Genesis.” The instrumental tracks are all well executed, from the theremin-laced space out of “Strata” to the faux chamber music of “Colours of Rain,” and are pleasant enough whether you’re coming from a hard techno or soft industrial standpoint. While there’s no doubt that more VNV Nation fans will hate this than love it, from an unbiased standpoint it might be the band’s best work yet.
Listen with an open mind and visit Ronan and friends at www.vnvnation.com.
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