REVIEW: Vajra – ‘Pleroma’

Artist: Vajra
Album: Pleroma
Genre: Progressive Rock
For fans of: Tool, Dead Can Dance, Fever Ray

I’ve never found myself a fan of bands like Lacuna Coil and Evanescence and as you probably noticed immediately, both of those bands are female fronted and you’re probably thinking, “Well this guy’s just sexist.” I assure you that that is not the case here. I am a gallant and chivalrous gentleman with a fondness for the fairer sex. However, I just typically prefer female vocals to be accompanied by simple folk melodies and or indie pop charm as opposed to metal (which I love) and heavier genres of the like. With all this being said, I admit that I’ve never really delved deep into the area of more progressive music with female vocalists, and sure, I could certainly be missing out on something but generally, from what I’ve experienced thus far, I feel that I am not.

Or should I say, felt that I am not?

New York’s Vajra piqued my interest almost immediately. With a sound reminiscent to that of beloved alt-metal deities, Tool, I found myself pleasantly surprised after listening through their debut effort, Pleroma, with their dark melodies, Eastern Indian influenced motifs and vocal presence of founder and focus, Annamaria Pinna. The album’s title is actually quite fitting as it translates to “full” or “fullness” and with Vajra’s first outing that’s exactly what you get. Pleroma boasts a complete sound with precisely layered instrumentation and at roughly 50 minutes shared between its 10 tracks, it feels fitting in length as well.

Pleroma exudes a haunting vibe that is mostly a positive attribute, albeit at times it can be rather lulling in the sense that you have to take a break and come back to it at another time, maybe after a cup of coffee. This is likely due in part to the forthright hypnotic bass presence and the fact that Pinna’s vocals rarely peak above a pacifying tone which can likely come off as monotonous but that by no means should indicate that she’s a less than capable singer. The closest resemblance I could pin down would be a new age Stevie Nicks. Tracks like “3.14” really display the beauty and melody in the group’s music (including the vocals) while “See Through You” takes the reigns on projecting one of the biggest and most versatile sounds on the record with added string arrangements, and continued talent in percussion by Blake Fleming (ex- The Mars Volta).

All in all, Pleroma is a solid debut with minor flaws from the New York outfit and with already locking down licensing deals with The Discovery Network, MTV, and Showtime as well as selling out shows and performing at 2012’s SXSW festival, I can’t imagine Vajra not seeing more of the spotlight with a little growth on future efforts.

SCORE: 7/10

Review written by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter

Brian Leak
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