At the height of last summer, a rust-coloured warehouse on the outskirts of Leeds was privy to something of a shake-up. Normally reserved for sweaty, pill-popping ravers, Canal Mills’ clientele switched for Outbreak – a two-day celebration of international hardcore, headlined by present-day genre pioneers Turnstile and Code Orange. The weekend’s real breakthrough moment, though, came midway through an otherwise sleepy Sunday afternoon. Vein had arrived.
A caterwauling, chaotic, run-through the furthest extremes of hardcore and noise-rock’s respective mantras, Vein’s UK debut quickly became the weekend’s highlight. Comparisons to heavy icons Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan abounded, as frontman Anthony DiDio looked desperate for self-destruction, hurling himself around the stage and floor like he was mid-exorcism. A few weeks previous, their ‘Virus://Vibrance’ video had grabbed attention with its grainy footage of an eyeball being sliced open. In the flesh, that visceral, dare-you-to-look-away approach felt truly terrifying. When the lights went up, there was a palpable shock from all in attendance. Job done.
“First of all, I did not expect that reaction at all,” says DiDio today, mid-way through a US tour with post-hardcore heroes Thursday. Outbreak came at the end of a mainland European tour that veered dangerously close to disaster, he explains: “Not a lot of people came to the shows, and when they did, we didn’t really get a reaction.” Invoking a reaction – good or bad – is Vein’s main aim. As they approached the UK, expectations were wavering. “At the end of it was Outbreak Fest,” Anthony adds, with an audible grin. “For that to happen at the end was the craziest shit. It was the opposite of what had been going on through that tour.”
Mainland Europe’s loss is the UK’s gain. Buoyed by that emotional whiplash, Vein’s impassioned Outbreak 2018 appearance immediately ended underground lore – ask anyone in attendance, and it was surely a highlight of the year. An upcoming UK tour looks set to take that platform and leap from it, two-footed.
This time around, they’re bringing ‘Errorzone’, too. Their genre-bending debut album, released last summer on Closet Casket Activities, its destructive approach to genre found them tearing expectations at the seams, and stitching them back together, Frankenstein-style. From clattering drum ‘n’ bass to squalling, old-school metalcore, it’s a masterclass in cross-genre aggression. That frenetic pace wasn’t always the case, though. “It took a while to get it to come together,” Anthony explains, near-three years of tinkering and re-recording driving the band to near-exhaustion. “I’m glad that it’s real now and that people are taking so much from it,” he notes. “Now that it’s out, it feels like the roadblock has gone.”
It’s Vein’s dedication to atmosphere and aesthetic that fuses those seemingly disparate sounds. “You almost put visual ideas into it,” Anthony explains. “You unlock one song then it’s like, ‘Oh, the album’s gotta sound like how this looks.’ You put all these little aesthetics onto it.” Taking a horror movie-esque aesthetic and applying it to their multi-faceted sound, ‘Errorzone’ found Vein leading a pack of new hardcore bands whose dedication to all-encompassing creativity is pushing boundaries.
“It’s awesome, because that’s how we view everything we do,” says Anthony of that multi-mediated approach – one which saw that aforementioned ‘Virus://Vibrance’ video capture as much attention as the music itself. “That’s the kinda stuff you wanna be surrounded by,” he adds, “It’s inspiring. We all have similar goals – which obviously aren’t the exact same with every band – and it inspires me to come up with new material and create my own universe.”
Moving forward, it’s new music that’s at the forefront of Vein’s minds. With six songs in the bag already, and “a good blueprint” for where they want to take things, post-UK tour they’re looking to get album two on the go. Upping the pace at every opportunity, as the boundaries that have held hardcore underground for so long continue to collapse, there’s no telling where Vein could go next.
“It’s a different time to even five years ago,” says Anthony. “Then, the paths between the worlds weren’t as cut down as they are now. It’s pretty nuts.” From huge shows with icons like Thursday, to musical fusions on-record, “there’s more opportunity for bands coming from hardcore to get in front of more people now,” he notes, before adding, with a shrug, a statement that feels entirely at odds with the rage-fuelled netherworld Vein’s art occupies: “I guess it’s just positive all round.”
‘Errorzone’ is out now via Closed Casket Activities. Vein tour the UK later this month with Higher Power and Narrow Head – full dates are as follows:
Feb 14th – The Flapper, Birmingham
Feb 15th – The Garage, Glasgow
Feb 16th – Temple Of Boom, Leeds
Feb 17th – Star & Garter, Manchester
Feb 19th – Exchange, Bristol
Feb 20th – New Cross Inn, London
Feb 21st – The Joiners, Southampton
Feb 22nd – The Green Door Store, Brighton
Feb 23rd – Waterfront Studio, Norwich