Vajra - Pleroma

by Lindsay Harper
(Toronto, ON, Canada)

Vajra - Pleroma CD

Vajra - Pleroma CD

Vajra - Pleroma CD Annamaria Pinna

New York progressive rock/metal artist Vajra have an ambitious release on their hands with "Pleroma", a 10-track outburst of spirituality and dark emotion from project creator Annamaria Pinna. Pinna enlisted the help of some industry heavyweights to bring the disc to completion, including producer/engineer Sylvia Massey (best known for her work on Tool's "Undertow), and ex-Mars Volta drummer Blake Fleming, who appears on the title-track.

Although the production could use a bit more clarity and thickness to it (this seems to be common in Massey's production work), the music itself is surprisingly powerful and convincing, immediately differentiating itself from other female led heavy acts such as Lacuna Coil. In fact, the most unique aspect of the album is probably the genuine anger displayed in Pinna's vocal performance. There's a subtle line between the real and the unreal in music, and this is most definitely real.

"Inside the Flame" is the album opener and a definite album highlight. They made the right call by making people's first impression an undeniably strong one. The basslines are quite Tool influenced, and there is some excellent drum and percussion work to back up well-crafted vocal lines.

"Almost One" incorporates tabla and features more colourful progressions that border on alternative rock/pop at times. The vocals and droning guitars make sure the piece maintains it's darkness, however.

"Blind" also fools the listener with a catchy verse only to lead to a pummelling and rewarding chorus. "Intuition" is one of the most interesting tracks on the album, and one that expands the range of the 'prog rock' scope of the project. There's a lot going on here; bells, toms, and repetitive vocal mantras that get more powerful as the tension builds.

The next stunner for me was "The Apple", an impressive closer that reigns in both the epic and innovative aspects of Vajra, with beautiful vocals and the band at their best.

All in all, Vajra follow in the footsteps of artists like Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and Porcupine Tree (to a lesser extent), and add some of their own flavor to the recipe. There are some definite hits and a few misses on "Pleroma", but what makes it a quality listen is that they do what they do very well and they do it with passion. How many artists can you really say that about?

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My name is Andrew Muller. I love creative art, music, television shows, movies, video games, and a good story.

If you had to find me somewhere, you would probably find me down at O'neils home cooking eating an organic sweet-potato bun breakfast sandwich with ham.

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