‘Sentience’: the ability to feel, perceive, or experience sensations subjectively. And what a unique experience for the senses it is this first full length album of Belgium’s Vermilion. After a much sought after EP release the band has now come up with nothing less than a whole concept album about two different alien races. Since they are an instrumental band it is the music that has to speak to the mind and imagination of the listener. A big thumbs up goes to the band’s guitar player Timmy Segers for writing the storyline behind Sentience and bringing it to life with exquisite artwork.
After a quiet start on an exotic planet our protagonist, the Acolyte, awakes amidst his squidlike brethren and the well-oiled machine that is Vermilion starts to groove. The over 10 minute opening track ‘Alien Sun Pt. I’ immediately showcases Vermilion’s diversity in styles. I do not know where in the universe the planet Vermilion writes about is located but they have been exposed to some jazz tunes. All members of the band are clearly masters on their instruments who skilfully incorporate different genres in their playing.
The first moments of ‘Uncanny Valley’ drummer Tom Vansteenkiste is given freedom to roam and he lays down some distinct beats. Later in the song it is keyboard player Michael Penson’s turn to experiment at will, while bass player Tom Everaert lines represents the Acolyte’s strides across this strange planet. While the Acolyte learns more about himself and his race, we enjoy ‘Phantom Frequency’ and the slow piano lines of ‘Helios Interlude’. More details of the story are in the booklet of the album but Vermilion really translated the dawn of knowledge within the Acolyte into music.
The cat’s out of the bag and it’s time for action! While the Acolyte sets things in motion against his serpentine enemies, the djent registers are pulled open and we are pulled into ‘Syntax’. Enjoy it below. And you know what would even be better? Listen to the song here and share it across social media to give them a shot at playing on Graspop Metal Meeting, Belgium’s biggest metal festival.
‘The Descent’ is mainly a peaceful track with bursts of aggression as the Acolyte watches his actions unfold outside. Vermilion succeeded in giving all members their share of the action and never letting one instrument dominate for too long. With a short sci-fi interlude of ‘Revolt’ we arrive at ‘Alien Sun Pt. II’. Last chance to groove, as the final song kicks off with some killer riffs. While the whole album’s story is located on a remote planet somewhere, it is on this track I noticed the biggest sci-fi vibes. A last epos over eight minutes to close off a very strong debut album.
Vermilion’s recipe would sound something like this: take the complex song-writing of Animals as Leaders, throw in some brutality of Meshuggah, mix it up with the softer touches of Scale The Summit and finish off the brew with some occasional experimental oddities. Just as with foreign food, you need to have an open mind to let all the different influences and tastes sink in, but for the connoisseur the end result is a delightful listening experience just under one hour!
Release date: 27 februari 2015
Label: Consouling Agency
1. Alien Sun Pt. I
2. Uncanny Valley
3. Phantom Frequency
4. Helios Interlude
6. The Descent
8. Alien Sun Pt. II