State of Nature

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On State of Nature, New Yorkers Vaeda push their slicked-up progressive rock/alt-metal to its most melodramatic potential. The album is all about high-wire emotional histrionics and cloudbursts of guitar, with nary a touch of irony. Ian Cole's keening wail (which often pitches into dramatic falsetto) is packed up against stop-start power-chording or, in more ruminative moments, ominously chiming notes. But beyond these hallmark, alt-metal postures -- heard time and time again from numerous artists -- there is not much to inspire beyond some clearly polished and sophisticated production work and instrumental mastery. "Bite My Tongue" does break from the pack a bit, offering up a creative and melodic three minutes that call to mind Incubus. Too often, though, Vaeda seem like a band in search of an arena -- ranging around for an anthem and squeezing the lyrical sponge for every last drop of emotion (long after it's spent). There is plenty of cleverness here, whether it is the rhythmic shifts or unpredictable chord directions, but too often these sleights seem like riffs to nowhere. But then again, listeners who take their navel-gazing ultra-seriously (and like to toss around terminology like "meaty riffs") just might find their muse among the theatrical flourishes of State of Nature.

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