From the moment the first “bleurghh” pukes from the mouth of Megan Targett, vocalist with Hertfordshire quartet Vexed, the fuse is lit. From there, as the band then lurch into Culling Culture opener “Hideous,” you’d be wise to strap yourself in for forty-five minutes of uncompromising, suffocating, alt/tech-metal. Ironically, “Hideous” is an absolute beaut of an opener, the kind that will have your neck muscles twitching before the quartet has dropped that first glorious chorus. It’s a track that sets the tone for not only the rest of the album but also as a showcase for how much depth these metal heavyweights have to their sound.

Packed with the kind of jackhammer drums that bruise your ribs, the kind of riffery that just melts your head, before coating the whole thing off with perfectly placed splashes of effects, Vexed’s sound is truly fucking disturbing and that’s before we’ve even delved in the vocal talents of Megan Targett. Here Vexed have someone who can literally switch it up at the flick of a switch. Her cleans are beautifully haunting, her lows are truly nasty, combine the two and, as you can hear on tracks like “Fake” and “Narcissist,” the end result is the stuff of nightmares. Vexed then pair up the jarring heaviness of the music, and Targett’s gut-wrenching vocals with equally unapologetic attacks on hatred, cancel culture, and betrayal to create a phenomenal piece of work.

Now, it’s no good just being heavy for the sake of it in 2021 and, as already stated, where Vexed really stand out from the pack is in the depth of their sound. Sit back and let the quartet drag you into the dark, frustrated sounds of “Weaponise” or the haunting melodies of “Aurora” two perfect examples of this. However, on the flipside of the coin, if you want heavy, Vexed is a band that knows how to do heavy really well. The sound shudders and lurches along and, as with every other aspect of the package, there is no compromise when it comes to the heaviness. After teaming up with CJ McMahon from Aussie head-stovers Thy Art Is Murder on taster single “Elite,” while the track doesn’t appear on the album, it certainly set the standard high and it is something that they maintain throughout the course of this devastating effort.

The heavy music scene in the UK has produced some stunning groups in recent years and, armed with Culling Culture, this Hertfordshire quartet is up there with the best of them. An album seething with anger and frustration, it’s not only a massive middle-finger in the face of all that is wrong with modern society but also an album that, right from the bludgeoning “Hideous,” will provide the perfect soundtrack to get you through even your darkest days. If you’re a fan of heavy, suffocating, dark music, Culling Culture is an utterly essential listen.

Culling Culture Track Listing:

1. Ignorant
2. Hideous
3. Fake
4. Epiphany
5. Misery
6. Narcissist
7. Weaponise
8. Purity
9. Drift
10. Aurora
11. Lazarus

Run Time: 37:40
Release Date: May 21, 2021
Record Label: Napalm Records

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.