Once upon a time, your favourite band was a local band. In some cases it’s hard to imagine; picturing an unsigned Slipknot ripping through “Wait and Bleed” and “Surfacing” in a dingy pub is a difficult image to conjure up. If anything, discovering a band in their nascent stages is the most exciting thing a music fan can do. Particularly if there as full of energy as Virginia metalcore merchants Vacive, formerly known as Values and Virtues. There’s little that’s new about their approach to the genre, but through exceptional musicianship and the frenzied nature of their attack they make an impressive sound on Personalities.
There’s not one obvious comparison point for them, as the EP shows shades of influence from In Hearts Wake in its crunching breakdowns, The Amity Affliction in clean vocal sections, and groove riffs that would do Upon a Burning Body proud. Vacive are at their best when they get properly relentless, and when the pace properly picks up on “Maasks” it’s an effort not to bang your head. Bailey Austin’s vocal performance is suitably feral, and like all the best metal and hardcore frontmen he sounds properly pissed off throughout. Though straightforward aggression is one of the strongest traits of Personalities, there are also additional touches that elevate it to a higher level, such as both the electronic touches and guest performances on “Heedless”. The former aspect in particular is effective because unlike many bands that use synthesized elements as a crutch, Vacive are careful not to let them overwhelm their attack and instead bring them in to provide an effective counterpoint to the onslaught of guitars and drums.
Some may find the raw production of the EP difficult to stomach, but in fact the pseudo-industrial edge that the lo-fi values add gives Personalities a much-needed distinct identity. When the cinematic intro to “Life (After) Death” is cleaved in two by the first blast of heaviness, there’s an exciting contrast brought by the grimy riffage. The worst thing a metalcore band can do is polish their sound too much, something that Vacive do very well to avoid here. A more valid complaint could be that the songs sound too alike, but in the context of a five-song EP that’s not a real problem. There’s enough variation displayed in the musicians’ performances across the tracks to keep things interesting, and though “Deadbeat” is probably the worst offender at reeling out genre clichés it nonetheless punches above its weight with anthemic clean vocals.
What’s perhaps most encouraging about the Personalities EP is how primed it sounds for live performance, with the band’s intensity pushed very much front and centre. Vacive have strong chemistry and some good ideas that with some fleshing out could make for a superb LP. They’re a good example of why you should perhaps pay more attention to your local scene; you just might find your new favourite band.