Sunday, August 28, 2011

VNV Nation - Of faith, power and glory

VNV Nation is something of an anomaly in the music world.  Their albums are always an even mix of thudding EBM floor-stompers and other tunes which are a strange hybrid of a stomper and ethereal, moody ballads.  The bombast of the opener "Pro Victoria" speaks of this being a typical VNV Nation album.  This impressive opener folds neatly into the opening full track "Sentinel" with Ronan's lyrics asking a very good question indeed:

"When will the banners and the victory parades celebrate the day a better world is won?"

This question and those like it - have haunted VNV's music since its inception - and surprisingly, 8 albums in, the message hasn't become tired or stale.  Techno music of all kinds is often derided for having no substance - lyrics as deep as a kiddie pool, bland musical arrangements, and worse have been said about it.  Ronan and co. continue with this disc to make a case for techno that does make you think and does sound intelligent and thought provoking.  And amidst all the thudding beats, they know how to tug at the heartstrings and stir the emotions - the piano-driven "From My Hands" is proof enough of this.

More mellow ballads like the aforementioned track are a welcome breath of fresh air after several catchy (Yet downcast) numbers  as "Tomorrow Never Comes".  Gloom is fine, but having some uplifting music mixed in as well makes for a more balanced experience.  "The Great Divide" is another plea for the kind of unity that, clearly, this group believes is far too uncommon in the world today.  Oftentimes lyrically they sound like 80's-era U2 - a fond comparison, not a bad one, mind you.

The final set begins with the slow-building "Verum Æternus" and culminates in the perfect full-circle epic track "Where There Is Light" - with the close of this disc one can see the evolution - VNV Nation began in a strictly electronic world, and have since learned to fuse the electronic with the organic, and still maintain the sound they are known for.  An under-rated band who deserves far more respect than they get, and a worthy entry to their catalogue.

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