VASA - Heroics | Album Review

Hailing from Glasgow, the groove bearing post-rockers VASA made a vibrant splash in 2015 with their debut Colours. A distant and joyous cry from the tawdry atmospherics often associated with post rock, VASA painted a spattered collage that illustrated the upbeat joys and carefree wonder this often misunderstood genre is capable of. However, five years have passed since that debut, a passage of time that has brought forth the reluctant gift of maturity to the Scottish collective. Thankfully, such a new found sense of wisdom hasn’t bunted VASA’s love for child like musical wonder. In contrast, such time has given the band the experience necessary to channel their feverish musical excitement into a body of work that serves as their most expansive, articulate and brazenly ambitious body of work thus far - Heroics.

Colours may have been the sound of a band having a carefree laugh, but Heroics see’s the band using their art to project a cinematic and imaginative story this time round, with the record itself being a full bodied concept album. The thought of an instrumental concept record may be perceived as an odd endeavour for some, but the inner narrative within Heroics is evident and crucial from the outset.

Detailed over three distinctive chapters, Heroics details the turbulent journey between childhood and adulthood. It’s a journey experienced by all, one racked by both pain and joy, but one that blesses us with the gift of hindsight and maturity; gifts that VASA have used to their full extent within this release. Despite this ambitious narrative, the same sense of palpable excitement and jubilance is present from their youth, but it’s in a fashion that’s far more aspiring and intelligible.

Opening with the establishing ‘Childhood’ prior to diving headfirst into the giddiness of the title track and ‘Everything Is Golden’, Heroics opens with VASA manically double downing on the instrumental charm that was omnipresent within their debut. Over this trifecta VASA vividly embody the brief sugar rush that is childhood. There’s no indication of post-rock melancholy, just ceaseless and highly strung musical celebration – everything is achievable and nothing is impossible.

It’s not until the record moves into the teenage section of the narrative that the barbs begin to break through the textures the musical hormones begin to flow. The suitably titled ‘Adolescence’ screams with adventurous rebellion and ‘Mini-Boss’, a track dedicated to fighting school-yard bullying, squirms and kicks with the pitch shifted aggression made infamous by bands such as Maybeshewill and Pelican. Despite this shift in authentic instrumental angst, the same joyful spirt is present; VASA perfectly emulate the turbulence and trails of adolescence through post-metal whilst still sounding positive, upbeat and carefree. Those who loved ASIWYFA’s All Hail Bright Futures and Heirs for their free spirited optimism will undeniable find themselves adoring this record.

As the record pacifies and moves into it’s third and final chapter – adulthood - Heroics tonal gradient becomes evident. ‘Adulthood’ is an introductory post-rock epic that rings with grandiose importance and the finale of ‘Exceptions’ and ‘Settle’ dance with shimmering layers that radiate a sense of bittersweet melancholia. Such tracks are more comfy and settled than their fresh faced predecessors, but this climax radiates a sense that longs for the carefree and pure days of youth. Luckily, you can repeat this sonic journey with the mere flip of a record or a touch of a button but this bittersweet finale truly solidifies one thing that many refrain from accepting; the days of youth are gone and can be never be repeated.

Heroics invokes an entire host of feelings over the course of it’s fantastic ten tracks; emotions of joy, nostalgia, rebellion, teenage excitement and melancholy. It’s the reason why it’s such a fantastic post-rock record. However, the key reason why it’s such a phenomenal record in it’s own right is how it minutely details a concept that we have all experience first hand. Truly, every track on this record can be applied to key moments of all of our lives. It’s A cinematic musical journey that must be undertaken. with Heroics, VASA have just become one of the most pertinent post-rock bands within the UK scene.

Score: 9/10

Heroics is released Friday 21st February via Dome A Records.

VASA are currently on tour alongside Thank You Scientist. Dates below.

17/2/2020 - Plymouth @ Underground * 18/2/2020 - Southampton @ Joiners * 19/2/2020 - Bristol @ Exchange* 20/2/2020 - Birmingham @ Mama Roux's*

21/2/2020 - Glasgow @ Stereo^ 22/2/2020 - Leeds @ Wharf Chambers^ 29/2/2020 - London @ 10 Years of Chaos Festival^ * w/ Thank You Scientist ^ VASA ONLY