Anachron Sounds (Europe), Metropolis Records (US), SSC (Scandinavia)
“Prelude”, the first track on VNV Nation’s latest album, Judgement, is an airy, atmospheric instrumental that avows the band’s new direction far better than I can. Stepping far away from the hard-hitting industrial sound that garnered them so much attention with prior efforts, VNV Nation has constructed an album that falls between dance-y dark wave and moody melodic trance. Judgement may fall short for those in the mood for more aggressive fare, but this album proves that louder doesn’t necessarily mean better.
The dark, despondent lyrics and mercurial melodies demonstrate a preference for depth over style. On this latest album, singer Ronan Harris still professes ominous omens for the future, but this time the message is more of a call to arms than scornful proselytizing. We are urged to save ourselves from our own self-inflicted destruction, to acknowledge the impermanence of our societies, and work to make things better. That message shines through on both the darker, metal-edged tracks and the lighter synth-laden ones. “Descent”, one of the more aggressive tracks, is musically one of the best on the album, melding throbbing drum lines with hypnotic keyboard melodies that almost immediately put you in a trace-like state. Judgement is not evidence of a new direction for the band, but of a new dimension to their ever-evolving sound.