Imagine an art critic having to go into a gallery to critique an unfinished painting. Quite frankly, this was my first assumption when Legend's editor Marcus sent this submission for me to review, and for the life of me initially thought he was out to torture me for his own sadistic pleasure.
I didn't have much hope for this; especially since most of the tracks aren't even titled nor was there even a press release to aid with credits or guiding the listening experience. Sauntering to the computer, anticipating a barrage of game soundtrack clones and lots of noise, the opening track of cacophony brought my fears to fruition. There is an assault of a variety of industrial noise effects that set my teeth on edge, seemingly like my ears were subjected to a war. Just as I was ready to pull the disc out and call the editor to curse him within an inch of his life, a transition of the sound set in. It simply segued where one felt as though they were flying over a vast city in the night sky. Naturally, I put the phone down and continued to listen. Once the attention is caught and focused, we are brought into a piano-like morose melody which was when it became apparent that 3 tracks had already passed. I thought to myself, "maybe this kid is onto something," and quite assuredly he is.
This project is by Kevin Schlueter, who started this back in 1999 when he was a mere 15 years old. For the record, the work by a 15 year old pretty much outshone some of those in the underground who have been at their craft for years. Vehemence 6.2 can easily be classified as the son of Middle Pillar's highly creative and avant-garde artists, A Murder of Angels. Definitely not the style and music for everyone, yet a delightful respite for those longing for dark music that doesn't sound like everyone else. I wrote to Schlueter in order to get a more comprehensive feel for what he was attempting to achieve since this is more than the mere tinkering from a 15 year with nothing to do one boring afternoon.
Hailing from O'fallon, Missouri, Schlueter released this project on November 22nd, 2002. The first edition was released with all of the songs basically having no names, so instead he incorporated a multimedia section where each track had its own viewable image. The width and height of the image corresponded to the exact length of the song, however in later editions the multimedia had been taken away. It seems that there are at least 4 editions to this release.
Schlueter states, "I named it Skleros because it is an ancient Greek word which means hard, harsh, rough, stiff, intolerable, offensive, stern, violent... and I thought all of those things had to deal with what this release was. I knew it would also probably be found by most people to be 'intolerable' or 'harsh' maybe even 'offensive' because it was very experimental. It was very rough and had no vocals, though in the future I will actually start adding vocals into pretty much all of my material."
Schlueter further states, "Most of this material is like a dirtied looking glass which peers into the past. The majority of the songs sort of revolve around early 20th century events, most notably World War One. I've written lyrics about a lot of this that will make it onto later releases. The reason I write and base the feelings and emotions from these subjects is because everything else has been overdone. Every CD you buy, most of the songs are written about love or women or their own personal feelings on things and I could do that, but it's a tired subject and an easy subject that anyone can do."
We are thrust into a world devoid of limits and boundaries. The music is haunted and foreboding at times, industrial and upbeat at others, yet it all merges together with excellent loops and edits that are almost flawless, never ceasing to be the darkest of dark that it can be. Since there wasn't even a credit listing of anyone else on this project, I had to inquire about this as well. Schlueter states that, "Vehemence 6.2 is a solo project without instruments, only software and mics." In light of the artist's age at the time of its creation, it is astounding how well the whole project gelled and did in fact invoke the imagery that he set out to create.
After initially approaching this CD with dread and apprehension, I am left with new found respect and awe. Vehemence 6.2 set out to be a musical storyline and photograph and succeeded on those levels most profoundly. The opening track was meant to set one's teeth on edge, but furthermore was destined to help the listener segue into each track with an enormous ability to evoke imagery that although unpleasant, are nonetheless essential elements for dark music. Furthermore, each listen seems to change the mental imagery each time, so that one is not left with a static feeling from a singular snapshot.
For those with a penchant for music such as that from A Murder of Angels, do seek out this CD because it is unlike anything on the market. It is experimental and avant-garde but also a profound and excellently orchestrated amalgamation of an artist just burgeoning at the outset of his career in music.