Descending from the heavens like a whirlwind, VNV Nation’s new album Judgement captures the imagination. Ronan Harris, the duo’s creative engine, shows remarkable focus and maturity on everything from songwriting to sound design. We saw a glimpse of this direction on their previous release Matter & Form and here it has materialized in full view. “Prelude” is an atmospheric opener full of emotion and beauty, clearing the path for what follows. “The Farthest Star” comes next pushing Ronan’s keyboard programming to new heights. Also the album’s first single, this one is certain to draw crowds to the dance floor. Emotionally charged lyrics accompany you on an aural journey that truly satisfies. The aggressive tone on “Testament” is loaded with high energy beats and brooding bass. EBM fans will cling to this track upon first listen. Superb attention to melodic structure is evident throughout, along with mind-bending rhythms. A darker side is explored on “Descent,” where metal percussion meets with a spoken-word backdrop.
Taking his vision even further, “Momentum” heats up the album’s core with a stunning display of sonic wizardry. After an extensive intro, Ronan’s vocals take center stage where we are transported to another dimension. Once his verbal message is delivered, the ensuing musical symphony carries you through its entirety. “Nemesis” shows us why VNV Nation are true masters of their craft. Few others even come close to the level of sophistication and emotion found here. During the chorus, Ronan states “Judgment days not coming soon enough” and I tend to agree. There are some great guitar samples intertwined with a barrage of synthesizers that engulf you. With “Secluded Spaces,” VNV chart a course for your soul. Subtle textures and soothing vocals provide a relaxing environment. “Illusion” continues on the softer side and tugs at the heart strings.
Inspiring and uplifting, “Carry You” encompasses the elements found on the previous eight tracks while driving us towards the finale. The instrumental and beat-less “As It Fades” closes the album sending chills down my spine. Don’t let the best electro release of 2007 pass you by. Judgement will change the way many think of sythesizer-based music. VNV Nation will be hailed for this masterpiece of modern electronic music.
Metropolis Records: www.metropolis-records.com