Sick Fix- Vexed

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sick Fix has become a fixture in the DC hardcore scene over their six plus years of existence, and after several EPs the band released their debut full length Vexed on A389 Records last year. Offering 21 minutes of intense riffs that are wrapped up in polished production values this effort is sure to appeal to those that have heard of the group before and newcomers that haven’t experienced their assault before. The vocal work may be a bit of an acquired taste so it’s recommended that you preview a track or two before diving completely in, but if they are to your liking Vexed is worth picking up.

To clarify, there is nothing about the vocals on this album that are bad. But lead singer Michelle Northam has one of those pitches that listeners are either going to love or find a bit grating depending on their personal tastes. She unleashes a full-on attack of abrasive screams that are fairly gruff in pitch and completely dominate the instrumentals throughout the course of Vexed. Personally I found that the performance was one of the standout elements of the album, as the level of intensity doesn’t waver at all throughout the entire 21 minutes and it really adds a lot to the material. But I could see how the pitch, which only changes slightly, could turn some people off or become a bit grating depending on the personal taste of the listener. That’s why in this particular case it’s best to sample first, because if the vocals do end up standing out as a positive element you can rest assured that they don’t let up for a single second.

While the instrumentals will feel familiar to hardcore fans, Sick Fix is able to do the style justice and hit a decent balance between full on blasting and slower grooves. Aside from the opening and closing tracks, none of the tracks on Vexed stretch past the two minute mark and all of them seamlessly flow from one to the other which makes it a great album to spin as a whole rather than in pieces. Compared to some of the other acts in the genre (and even others from DC), this group boasts strong production values as the sound has been mixed and mastered in a way that balances clarity and heaviness perfectly. I must admit that compared to some of the other bands on the A389 roster, the individual riffs didn’t stand out nearly as much and this was one of those efforts that stood out on the strength of its overall intensity and tempo changes rather than individual moments.

Vexed isn’t one of my favorite hardcore records in recent memory, but Sick Fix has the type of heavy sound and unwavering energy that still made it a worthwhile listen. I do get the feeling that the band could do even more writing wise, and considering they have the sound and intensity down they could easily build off of this material and really blow listeners away. In the meantime though, it’s great to see A389 continue to put out albums from the DC/Baltimore scene and expose them to a larger audience.

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