To the best of our knowledge, the members of Massachusetts hardcore outfit Vein.fm aren’t known for their psychic abilities, tarot-throwing skill or tight connections to the universe’s day planner. Their impending album, This World Is Going to Ruin You (out March 4 on Closed Casket Activities) had been written a few months before the world went into pandemic lockdown. The band’s synergy of antisocial rage and despair essentially telegraphed the greater world consciousness getting the fear of COVID-19.
“It’s been done for almost two years, like a year and a half, essentially,” frontman Anthony DiDio reveals on the phone with SPIN. “It’s funny: This album was conceived before the COVID shit. A lot of the lyrical, visual and art themes dealt with shutting yourself inside. Being inside a house and [in] isolation, coming to realizations at home and being passed in the wind of the world around you and actually having to deal with yourself. As we started to record, all that shit started happening in the world.
“It’s not a COVID-themed album by any means,” he adds. “I think it just ironically lined up. Even the title gets very old. It’s not like we were like, ‘Oh my God, the world sucks.’ But it is kind of weird how those things played into it.”
Cultural clairvoyance notwithstanding, Vein’s alloy of cochlea-stabbing guitar harmonics, piston-engine rhythms, jarring electronic textures and throat-shearing catharsis is nothing short of glorious. Their debut full-length, 2018’s Errorzone, was a highwater benchmark in the metal/hardcore axis erected by aesthetically victorious bands (Converge, the Dillinger Escape Plan) and cultivated by their attendant progeny (Code Orange, Loathe). An auxiliary remix LP (2020’s Old Data in A New Machine Vol 1) proved that Vein could conjure vivid electronic hellscapes as compelling as any industrial-identifying unit. Couple these soundtracks with a live show similar to being trapped in a meat locker with a concussion grenade strapped to your chest and one thing is perfectly clear: Vein are the hardcore mutation the world needs.
On This World Is Going to Ruin You, Vein.fm—DiDio, guitarist Jeremy Martin, bassist Jon Lhaubouet, sampler Benno Levine and drummer Matt Woods—light a four city-block fire and thrash around in the middle of it. With tracks ranging from stab-wound immediacy (“Versus Wyoming,” “Inside Design”) to opaque menace (“Wavery”) and an epic mind movie (“Funeral Sound”), along with guest appearances from Thursday’s Geoff Rickly (“Fear In Non-Fiction”) Jeromes Dream frontman Jeff Smith (“Hellnight”) and L.A.-via-Michigan rapper BONES (“Orgy In The Morgue”), This World goes far to further splay hardcore’s sonic boundaries and prejudices.
“It’s way, way, way scarier and more abrasive” is how DiDio summarizes the new album’s intention. “But also, there’s a lot of melodic stuff on it, too. The intent was to create something that was much, much darker, and there’s a lot more dynamics and a lot more vibe. Definitely way darker, more and more noir and also more nightmarish. I think that’s probably the best word: nightmarish.
“I think that darkness naturally comes out based on who we are, what was going on and what we were doing at the time,” he clarifies. “It was like, ‘OK, we want it to be more disgusting, scarier, more horrifying.’ It’s not surprising that “The Killing Womb,” would be the first video, as it was the first song written for the album. “I think that song set the tone [for the album], if that makes any sense.”
“I do think that Vein are genuinely more experimental and more adventurous than any of their heavy music peers in a lot of ways,” Rickly says in a separate phone interview. “I genuinely think that they’re one of the most adventurous bands in hardcore and they’re going to continue to move it forward.”
A glance at the new album’s lyric sheet finds DiDio creating some truly harrowing thoughts and commentaries. These can get as tense as a blood pressure cuff forced and pumped around your throat. They could also be perceived as mysterious and arcane as discovering a box of love letters your father kept and realizing that’s not your mom’s handwriting. But if you’re looking for specifics, DiDio’s not sharing them. Scratch that: He’s not revealing them to music journalists or on social media platforms. If you want to know the origin story of the seven-minute-plus emotional sine wave “Funeral Sound,” saunter up to him at the merch table and he’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you. Most bands live and die by complete control in the studio and their marketing. But DiDio takes it a step further, making sure that Vein’s output isn’t tainted by common-denominator articles with clickbait headlines worthy of Reddit threads and supermarket tabloids.
“There’s other pieces of art that influence [the new album],” the singer says cautiously when asked about Vein’s non-musical inspirations. “But in terms of events, there’s other things, as well. But that’s all personal stuff.”
When facetiously asked if he’s saving those personal details for a potential story, DiDio is more patient than playful. “If you spell out something exactly for somebody, it takes away the mystery and perhaps its potency.” He pauses.
“Honestly, man?” he continues. “I don’t even mean this in any disrespectful way. But I don’t know. [Pauses.] I feel like these things are just big for press taglines. And people only focus on those things. Like ‘Band member grieving loss of father writes new album.’ I just don’t like that type of shit.”
This is the part in the story where we stick in some trite, eye-rolling vernacular about Vein “pushing the sonic envelope” or “achieving some next-level status.” But on This World Is Going to Ruin You, the men of Vein prove they’re not motivated by careerism. They are a modern hardcore band worth their weight in sweat and injuries that deserve an audience in possession of a consciousness that’s willing to be elevated. Look, it’s perfectly fine for DiDio to keep psychic barbed wire and gun towers around his hippocampus. The real message is how he divines the further and evident truths that keep his band vital and their fans passionately engaged.
“I think Vein live will always be an aggressive force,” Rickly surmises. “I don’t know how expansive or genre-smashing they’ll be, but they’re just so visceral as a live band, I think that carries the intent. It’s like the Trojan horse: They can batter through your defenses and then once you’re thinking, ‘OK, I’m in, I’m ready to go on the journey with them,’ then I think there’s going to be a lot of people learning about some stuff that they weren’t interested in before. Depending on how well they do it on this record, they’re going to be able to turn some people onto some weird, different shit.”
Hardcore has been around long enough to go through many generational permutations of what is deemed “acceptable” (especially by dudes of a certain length of tooth who unload trucks for a living). But in today’s paradigms of no-genres and breaking boundaries, there’s something to be said about raising consciousness within that community. Vein are currently enjoying accolades from a fanbase that includes young pitters, straight-up metalheads, industrial rivetheads and rarified indie-rock snobs. DiDio still embraces the h-word as a touchstone, the way some people embrace the word ‘jazz” but still can’t seem to agree on a definition. Vein fans are entitled to their own psychic monocle, no matter how scratched and dirty it gets.
“I think Vein is a hardcore band, 100%,” DiDio resigns. “But in reality, Vein makes ‘Vein music’ to me. A lot of people call Vein certain shit like metalcore or whatever, and I think it’s really just because of what we’re surrounded by: They’re just easy terms for people to digest things. Would you describe Deftones as a nü-metal band or a rock band or a metal band or just Deftones? But we don’t really think about that kind of stuff. I think all the influences just come out naturally and we do whatever we want. We’re not catering to a type of sound—or member of the audience.”