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Atmosphere isn't something one often associates with deathcore. Tracks are often written with a laser focus on the big breakdown and how the pit will respond, which can make for a great time, but runs the risk of ringing hollow or becoming “of its time.” Hailing from the UK, Vexed certainly doesn't slack in the breakdown department, however, they bring an emotional intensity to the table that is dripping with both the aforementioned atmosphere and a sense of vulnerability that allows more of a direct connection to the songs presented on their sophomore effort, Negative Energy.

A huge reason their approach is successful is the vocals and lyrics of Megan Targett, who is rightfully garnering attention as a force to be reckoned with. Turning on a dime from guttural shouts to venomous banshee wails and then soaring clean singing, Targett is a wrecking crew all on her own while managing a clarity and cadence that makes sure you don't miss a single word. No small feat with vocals this harsh, and words that at times express an unsettlingly raw honesty.

But selling the rest of the band short would do a grave disservice to the complete package that is Vexed. The riffwork on display here by guitarist Jay Bacon should have Mick Gordon kicking himself right now. Bacon deploys divebombs that sound like a car battery dying, while showing restraint in all the right places to let Willem Mason-Geraghty's mid-pace pummeling drive the intensity of Targett's voice directly into the listener's soul. Breakcore interludes and less pronounced effects swirling in the background keep the entire package immersive and engaging.

Things get intense in very real and visceral ways along the journey. "Panic Attack" sees Targett and company guiding the listener through a complete psychotic break, and later in the album "It's Not the End" deals with profound and undeserved loss in a very direct manner. And yet, it ends up being a beautiful tribute that anyone who has a similar hole in their life should immediately connect to.

Vexed is on to something here. This is a very crowded field and by letting their influences shine through and not being afraid to expand on what can be a very linear sound, Vexed are entering unique territory ala Within Destruction. This is a band you're going to be hearing a lot about this year and going forward.