Exceed is the latest album from the Belgium-based This Vale of Tears, who hail from the 'All Synths/Programming with some Guitar' school of gothic rock. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure that they actually managed to graduate.
The primary problem with Exceed is that it simply has nothing new, innovative, or interesting to offer whatsoever. Even the album's more listenable songs like The Wind, or Higher Spirits (flat liner mix) sound like pale imitations of far superior work from other bands in the genre. If you already have a few releases by Love Like Blood and/or Girls Under Glass, then you probably have no reason to buy this album (unless you just happen to enjoy throwing away money).
The opener (which is also the title track) is the weakest track on an album in which weakness predominates, with uninteresting vocal lines, a plodding pace and a horribly uninspired synth bassline which is the most noticable (and unfortunately, most memorable) element of the song. The remix of this track does manage to provide some small amount of reparation by removing the vocals (for the most part) and adding more texture. Unfortunately it couldn't do anything for the annoying bassline (though, if it did, then it would have produced a completely different song, which would be okay by me).
The production isn't poor, but it is a little on the thin side, as the band uses a synthesizer to provide the bass, drums, and anything else needed besides vocals and guitar. The vocals are usually competent, but nothing more than just that. The lyrics suffer slightly from "English as a secondary language" syndrome, but not nearly as badly as quite a few other European goth/industrial. This is not a significant complaint, however, as anyone familiar with the genre knows to expect some amount of lyrical silliness, and, truth be told, there are at least a few bands out there with worse lyrics who still manage to write and perform far better songs than This Vale of Tears has been able to whip up thus far.
In short, Exceed is a horribly subpar album, which I can't even recommend as simply a good, if unoriginal, example of the genre. There are simply far too many bands out there that have far better to offer. Granted, there are bands out there that are far worse, as well... but I consider that to be a poorly convincing argument for why one should check this one out.
Post: Black Raid, Altendorfer Strasse 96, 09113, Chemnitz, Germany