Introspective and beautifully pained, Aussie quintet climb even further into the hearts of fans with their sophomoric album Vicious Pleasure.
Following the release of their debut effort, New Bloom, it feels as though Endless Heights have been learning a lot as a band. With a (relatively) sizeable gap between that release and this forthcoming one, the outfit have afforded themselves a window for sonic evolution and overall development as artists. Vocalist, Joe Martorana states that “this record is about a new chapter in my life… I’ve taken a step back and taken a huge look in the mirror”. Reading this, without even listening to the record, connotes the nature of the artist to be incredibly dedicated to his craft and I was certainly eager to get involved with Vicious Pleasure. The real question is, does the music match the mantra?
The opening track lingers for just over a minute – we don’t need any more than that. Taste It essentially serves as an atmospheric precursor to the track that follows – it’s an eerie number that eases us into the record whilst still managing to keep us on edge. There is no room for complacency here. This notion is furthered when the jagged strum of a distorted six-string throws us into You Coward which is, in my opinion, a blatant highlight on the album. It boasts a chorus that is moody but just about electric enough to warrant a punchy head bob. The structure of the song lends itself very nicely to be a pleasant listen, there peaks and troughs in all the right places. All in all, a terrific song that will undoubtedly win over new listeners such as myself and, it’s safe to say, that this has earned a spot on my playlist.
Another track that did a fantastic job of cementing itself in my brain is the newest single, Come A Little Closer. When it comes to emotional songwriting, you’ll be very hard pressed to find a song that does it better than this. The poised and delicate musings of Martorana carry us through the song at a pedestrian pace which allows us listeners to hang on his every word, enabling them to seep into our bloodstream. This song hits hard and the emotions that fuel the music is certainly projected onto the audience in an effective manner. Shiver Down follows a similar mould, just with a slightly more aggressive approach. Again, we feel the venom bleeding out through every element of the band – particularly with the drums, there is a fill at around 1:05 that is blisteringly awesome.
Paralyse also stands out. Largely, this is to do with the blatant chance of pace from the rest of the record. There is no real distortion here, rather, the guitars adopt a cleaner tone to elegantly cushion the stripped back vocals that are on offer here. Once again, the song is agonisingly sad which makes for an incredibly immersive and invested listen. Every time I spin this album, I can’t help but feel as though Paralyse would be a great end to the album, simply because you feel emotionally spent after listening to it. There are points when listening to this album that, unless you’re feeling particularly moody, can become somewhat overbearing.
There is only so much spiteful melancholy that one can take in a single sitting and, realistically, that is pretty much the essence of what is on offer here. Certain songs fall short of making an outstanding impression simply because when listened to side by side the dynamics start to feel a little bit repetitive. However, there are definite highlights here and I do sincerely believe that every song offers something different. For example, the way the whispered vocals in Run erupt into a yell that spits anguish is fantastically unique and the little elements like this make every track worth listening to.
As a whole, Vicious Pleasure is a solid album that will provide the audience with a contemplative journey through feelings of love, lust and loss to name just a few. For that alone, you must give this record a listen – just make sure you’re well equipped for the road ahead, otherwise, you might find yourself struggling to deal with the insistent melancholy that fuels the vast majority of the music on offer.