Straddling the fine line between alternative rock and progressive metal is Veio, a trio from Portland that has a knack for making anthemic rhythms while digging in their heels to progressive complexities. Full of moving choruses that give way to a dynamic backdrop of unusual time signatures and ambience, the group’s sophomore album “Vitruvian” welcomes a steady tide of heavier moments alongside a more cautious exploration of near-silence and peace beside chaos. Between their debut and an intense touring schedule alongside names such as Seether and RED, Veio display the accumulation of their confidence in an album that is defined by its smooth production and musical cohesion. Harmonious through its highs and lows, “Vitruvian” balances accessibility and intricacy with a familiar radio-ready approach to song structures that makes its vibrance so welcoming.
Veio has managed to strike at that soft spot between rock and metal that makes those heavy-hitting moments all the more compelling, listeners first pulled in by the group’s inspiring choruses and serene instrumental passages. These tender moments consistently give way to deep chugging or shrieking solos, impressive in both their speed and complexity. A more adventurous approach to the realm of progressive metal has allowed “Vitruvian” to embrace the noticeable bass lines of “Dolos,” a steady lead that comes through clearly as the time signature shifts without the catchy choruses of “Pariahs” feeling out of place. Moments of greater instrumental intensity and atmospheric inflection lead in the hooks and outros of each track while often giving the chorus more room to breathe, with the exception of the slight growl across the vocals of “Ascendancy.”
The album sees its heaviest moments shine through in its latter half, coupled well with more tender moments in closing track “Centauri.” Vocalist and guitarist Cameron Byrd has a tendency throughout the album to have his voice drawn apart from the instrumentals, muting both the guitar and percussion during the album’s short verses. Power is channeled primarily into choruses, such as that of the album’s first single “Flare of Defiance,” even when the personality of drummer Brett Byrd is one of the band’s most notable foundations. Not tasked with simply keeping the rhythm for the strings to carry along, subtle flourishes on “Penumbra” allow the percussion to build out a character beyond that of a mere accent to the leading riffs. Unfortunately these more driven moments of heaviness are buried in favor of carefully calculated guitar-led passages to build out melodies that call on wonder and starlight. Cam Byrd’s riffs are nothing to shy away from, but the chemistry Brett Byrd shows in matching the percussive inflection to the song’s overall mood is an undeniable highlight of the album.
For all of the group’s careful cohesion, “Vitruvian” seems to step much more cautiously than necessary. The opening segments of each track rely on a rather tried-and-true formula, and no vocal introduction is completed without the instrumentals pulling back to give Byrd center stage. “Penumbra” offers a perfect setup for a track that strikes heavy through-and-through, but falls back for the first verse by nearly cutting the drums entirely. While some of the overall instrumental builds seem to mirror that of Starset, there’s a tendency to water down the initial momentum throughout even the album’s heaviest track – in the sake of accessibility or a more authentic alternative rock experience -, squandering some of the progressive potential of the moments of greatest impact. Some songs redeem themselves with multi-dimensional synth programming or impressively dexterous solos, but repetitive passivity leaves a shadow of the greater peaks that could have been.
It’s clear that Veio is still seeking to find stable ground beneath their feet, but “Vitruvian” is a demonstration of the relatively young group going boldly into the world with confidence at the very least. Overall atmosphere and inflection may sometimes misalign in the catchy and fortified choruses, but adequate exploration of tone in more ambient passages has given “Vitruvian” its redeeming moments. Although it certainly follows in the footsteps of some of the fabled names of alternative rock, leaning into progressive metal for a more full-bodied sound has allowed Veio to surge forward with additional teeth as they continue to garner mainstream attention. This album is a shiny gem worthy of catching eyes, but just as with any jewel hewn from the stone, a bit more refinement will make this up-and-coming act all the more stunning.
Released By: Silent Majority Group
Release Date: June 19th, 2020
Genre: Alternative Rock
- Cameron Byrd / Vocals, Guitars
- Brett Byrd / Drums
- Kris Lewis / Bass, Backing Vocals
- Flare of Defiance
- The Scavenger
Blending together elements of progressive metal and alternative rock, Veio proves that modern anthems can also shoulder impressive levels of complexity in their depths. Bright even during its heaviest moments, "Vitruvian" is a serene reprieve that fearlessly gazes upon a more beautiful world.