Sanctuary: The Complete Discography

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Vex were a microscopically obscure South London punk band, existing for only a few brief years in the mid-'80s and leaving behind a sole EP-length 12" entitled Sanctuary before dissolving into thin air. Sanctuary was released on a label run by anarcho-punks Conflict, so Vex were often lumped in with the political ideals and peace punk aesthetic of bands like Conflict, Crass, Rudimentary Peni, and others in the thriving anarcho punk scene. Listening closely reveals their sound had far less to do with those bands' D.I.Y. political spouting and leaned more toward the proto-goth post-punk of icy acts like Killing Joke and Joy Division. Issued decades after the band's breakup, Sanctuary: The Complete Discography gathers together Vex's laughably minute body of work, consisting of just eight songs in total: five studio cuts and three previously unissued demos. The studio tracks creep with gothic angst, lead singer "Scrote" delivering lyrics in shouty, near-spoken yelps over chorus-heavy guitar lines and brooding rhythms. Tracks like "Relative Sadness" and "It's No Crime" lurk in far more shadowy, dour circles of punk while the rolling rhythms and delayed vocals of "Rushing to Hide" explode with an energy somewhere between Bauhaus at their most rawkus and the Damned at their most serious. Rounded out by the hissy, extremely lo-fi demos, Vex's discography is a fantastic document of a classic lesser-known band that could have held its own with any of its better-known contemporaries. Despite the brevity of Vex's output, the power of these few songs is undeniable.

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