Metal Storm logo
E-L-R - Vexier review

Bandcamp music player

35 users:
Band: E-L-R
Album: Vexier
Release date: March 2022

01. Opiate The Sun
02. Three Winds
03. Seeds
04. Fleurs Of Decay
05. Forêt

I don’t know what it says about either my listening tastes or the country’s metal scene that I was genuinely surprised to find out that E-L-R are not from Belgium.

Instead, this trio hails from Bern, Switzerland. You might look at the band name and me referring to them as a trio and think ‘oh, so it’s one letter per member’ - as far as I can tell, this is not the case, as the band members’ initials (with which they are credited by in favour of full names) do not contain either an ‘E’ or an ‘L’. I have no idea where the name comes from; in contrast, the album promo notes state that the title of their sophomore record, Vexier, is derived from the Latin word ‘vexare’, meaning ‘to plague’ or ‘to irritate’, and there is an insidious nature to this record.

You’re probably wondering from my opening line why I thought this band was from Belgium. Well, there’s two answers to that: Amenra and Wolvennest. The fact that CHVE from Amenra played hurdy gurdy on their debut demo In Splendour & Sedation and E-L-R have toured with both groups underlines why I might make that mental connection, but really, the music speaks for itself. The repetitive riffing on tracks such as “Opiate The Sun” and “Fleurs Of Decay” sound an awful lot like what might come out if Wolvennest took their style in slightly more of a post-metal direction, while the quieter moments in certain songs, particularly the initial minutes of “Opiate The Sun”, resemble the subdued downtime encountered on Amenra records. Add on top of this hypnotic instrumental base some similarly repetitive hushed clean vocals, and you’ve got a record that is purely focused on ensnaring listeners in a trance.

Now, Amenra-meets-Wolvennest isn’t a comprehensive summary of how Vexier sounds. The approach taken by both vocalists in E-L-R is much more ethereal and hazy than CHVE’s pained shrieks or Sharon Shazzula’s intense preaching, and the band both avoid the extremes in intensity that Amenra reach while also pushing into more energetic up-tempo rhythms at times, such as the opening of “Three Winds” (which makes me think more of certain songs from Primordial). More than anything though, with that token 'X-meets-Y' summary, I'd be overselling the contribution of Amenra and understating the presence of Wolvennest in the record's sound. Nevertheless, one thing Vexier has in common with both Belgian groups is that it relies on its atmosphere (like many a post-metal band). On this front, E-L-R do a fine job; the trio come together very effectively to give the softer parts drive and the heavier parts weight, and the Wolvennest-esque guitar style keeps one enthralled in the album even in the absence of clearly discernible riffs. The vocal approach that they take also works really nicely with the rest of the music to build a sinister, ritualistic, otherworldly aura.

Given how much I like Wolvennest, it’s not really a surprise that I like Vexier rather a lot. However, I do think it could probably do with a little bit more variety. Considering how much diversity Wolvennest managed to fit into Temple last year with the gothic detours and more stripped-down tracks, the fact that E-L-R resemble their core sound so much yet don’t really find a way to distinguish each track from one another does count against them a bit in my eyes. There’s faint little oddities in the background of songs, such as bird sounds in “Three Winds” and keyboards in “Seeds”, but really, apart from the aforementioned first minute or so of “Three Winds”, the first three-and-a-half tracks really feel like one and the same. At that halfway mark, “Fleurs Of Decay” does at least push into more blackened territory, with muffled blasts beneath a more persistent tremolo. This makes for a nice little novelty on Vexier, as do the tribal drums in the first part of closing song “Forêt” and the male guest vocals that come afterwards. Still, there’s plenty of room for E-L-R to push the boundaries of their musical template further on subsequent records.

As much as I rag on the lack of diversity in the last paragraph, it’s not such a big issue; Wolvennest haven’t been around long enough for enough other overlapping bands to come along and taint the appeal of what they’re doing, and it is a style that is built for hypnotic repetition, which E-L-R pull off well on Vexier.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 14.03.2022 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 1   Visited by: 70 users
14.03.2022 - 19:38
Not exactly high-echelon post, but still a really great listen and a promising band
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

Hits total: 967 | This month: 25