As far as first impressions go, it’s vital that an album cover make a strong, immediate impact. In fact, if you’re unfamiliar with a band, chances are it’s the deciding factor on whether or not you pick up their record to investigate them any further. Luckily, the colorfully twisted Nosferatu inspired imagery of ‘Vampire State,’ the latest record from Rochester, NY metal band Aggressive Betty is not only striking in a bold, curious way, but it’s also reflective of the overall tone of the record as well. Maybe’s it’s heartbreak, maybe it’s the times we live in, or perhaps it’s a little bit of both, but the theme of metaphorical vampirism is one that takes center stage throughout this musical journey. Set admist a backdrop of gritty guitars, a hard hitting bass, clean, rapid fire drums, and raw yet melodic vocals, ‘Vampire State’ is a heavy hitting 11 track album that brings old school metal vibes to new school metal fans.
The disc begins with “Omega,” an apocalypse conjuring intro that ushers in dark ruminations of what’s to come. The band then launches straight into “Separate,” a high octane straight up metal song that is easily one of the catchiest tracks. Likewise, songs such as “Regime,” “Rusted Knife,” and “The Toll” follow suit, offering up powerful vocals, tasty riffs, and killer drum rolls. Arguably however, the standout track is “F.A.R.,” (short for “Fuckin’ A Right”) which features a chugging, catchy hook that had me humming it’s bars all night long Furthermore, the lyrics are smart, and echo the sentiment of the album, warning listeners to open their ears and eyes to the corruption around them, while learning to think for themselves. While “F.A.R.” is the best example of how heavy Aggressive Betty can be, the more subdued “After the Fall” is a terrific example of how the band can create a more epic, reflective sound. Beginning with a moody instrumental, this track about a haunted man offers up melodious vocals and a lingering guitar solo that tugs at the heart strings and has that epic rock feel that artists like Meatloaf have perfected. In fact, my only complaint is that they did not make this song the last on the record, as it would have rounded out the grandious feel of “Omega” perfectly.
If you enjoy bands such as Motorhead, Testament and/or Sabaton, I would absolutely recommend Aggressive Betty’s ‘Vampire State.’ It is a solid, polished, straight up metal record that offers just the right balance between head banging and lighter igniting. At the very least, listeners should give the aforementioned tracks a try, because they prove that a smaller town band can offer up music that is just as good if not better than the national acts that are currently being overplayed at a radio station near you. ‘Vampire State’ can currently be found on a variety of sites, including ReverbNation, Spotify and Amazon. For more information on the band, including their upcoming tour dates, visit their official Facebook page.