Sanctuary: The Complete Discography

Sacred Bones

Vex were enthusiastic participants in UK anarcho-punk circa 1983, playing shows with the likes of Conflict, kitted out in the requisite armor of studs and leather, raging against the Thatcherite machine. And yet, once the needle drops on the Sanctuary reissue, you are treated to a far more subtle, mysterious and seductive palette of sound – easily in line with Josef K, early Sisters of Mercy, Christian Death, and Killing Joke than Crass. Indeed listening to it with virgin ears in 2014 places it squarely in the gothic camp; hell, Vex could be heralded as one of the unwitting forefathers of the g-beat sound (Belgrado, Cemetary, Blue Cross, Anasazi). So it goes with the strange and wonderful British sub-subgenre of positive punk, which also birthed the Mob, Sex Gang Children and Southern Death Cult. Basically, punk stripped of its yobbish piss and vinegar, gripped with an existential panic at the state of the world, and utilizing a far more expansive palette of sonics and well emotions, as well as a more flamboyant presentation.

Out of print for decades, Vex’s Sanctuary 12″ seemed destined for GREAT LOST ALBUM status until Sacred Bones unearthed it and then added some extra tracks to encompass all of Vex’s ouvre. And Vex has fucking withstood the test of time admirably. Eldritch anthems run headlong into lirthe punk heaviness. There’s a sense of keening possibility in every liquid guitar run, anchored heavily reverbed drums and JD-style bass. And the singer marshals existential outrage into every glorious war whoop and bellow. “Sanctuary” could have been an anthem for the Cult. “It’s No Crime” nicks a few ideas from “The Wait” but with an altogether different kind of tension. “Relative Sadness” is a masterclass in deathrock darkness; in another world, constant mixtape fodder. “Rushing To Hide” is a staccato, metallized mantra that seems to anticipate Ministry and other industrial abusers. (Great vocal echo too. A demo of “Pressure” closes the album magnificently, giving sly hints of “Love Like Blood” level pop mastery. If only…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Alex McArtor
    Alex McArtor

    Touch/Are You Alone (Bigmac Records). Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Superstar

    Sex, drugs, adultery, murder and finally, redemption – it’s all intertwined in the tale of Trent Davis, the “star” of author Christopher Long‘s latest, Superstar.

  • Moloko Plus
    Moloko Plus

    Moloko Plus is a monthly experimental music event in Orlando, Florida.

  • General Magic
    General Magic

    General Magic invented the smart phone in 2002, but just couldn’t get it to market. That’s just how they rolled.

  • Blue October
    Blue October

    Alternative 90s rockers Blue October rolled into Central Florida for a two-night run at House of Blues, and Michelle Wilson was blown away.

  • Pahokee

    Pahokee produces sugar cane and poverty, but some the brighter students might make it to the big time with a college degree and a new zip code.

  • Sumo Princess
    Sumo Princess

    When An Electric Storm. (Educational Recordings) Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Laura Valle
    Laura Valle

    Charismatic. Review by Stacey Zering.

  • Ramen Shop
    Ramen Shop

    A young man searches for the secrets of his family and great Ramen.

  • Southern Avenue
    Southern Avenue

    Keep On (Concord Records). Review by James Mann.

From the Archives