‘A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So, he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusion.’
So said 1950s/60s Zen philosopher Alan Watts about the perils of spending too much with one’s own thoughts. Live, Vein.fm have used a sample of Watts saying this to introduce the song “Doomtech” from their 2018 album ‘Errorzone’.
“Doomtech” seems to be about the perils of consciousness – the complex circuitry of our minds caged inside our heads. It is a warning about the effects of this entity starting to look too far inwards, folding over back on itself. Its lyrics conjure obsessive, intrusive visions: ‘everytime I close my eyes I crash a thousand cars and all my/loved ones die’.
The song stood as an emblem of ‘Errorzone’ as an album which depicted the human mind as a machine that was malfunctioning: ‘psychosomatic ticks keeping the feeble conscious stuck inside/a broken stereo’.
Vein.fm’s vicious, breakneck music encapsulates this notion of psychological fracture. ‘Errorzone’ jerked itself around so violently that 2020’s ‘Old Data in a New Machine Vol.1’ felt like necessary recuperation. It contained reimagined and remixed songs, and demos of older material, like it was re-examining a locus of immense trauma.
Both albums confirmed Vein.fm as one of the most vital bands in hardcore. They were also contortions of the genre itself. The intimacy and claustrophobia in their lyrics had a raw yet elliptical emotional fabric more in keeping with the ground-breaking works of neo metal in the nineties: Korn’s debut and ‘Around The Fur’ by Deftones in particular.
When I speak to singer Anthony DiDio over Skype he is outside a venue in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in the midst of a US tour in support of their new album, ‘This World Is Going To Ruin You’. They recently shot a performance video for upcoming single “Hellnight” on a day off while on the road. The title of the song sprung from what DiDio calls a 'band in-joke’.
For a group of keen gamers, DiDio says it’s a coincidence that the song shares a title with a Japanese survival horror Playstation game from 1998. DiDio scoured the video game stores for it when the band toured Japan in 2019. The game shares the band’s compulsion to pull participants into an all-consuming, often nightmarish space.
DiDio speaks of ‘This World Is Going To Ruin You’ as another universe the band has crafted that the audience can step inside. The album’s message seems to conflict with Watts’ warning about the overthinking person. Instead, it points to the danger inherent in the world outside. And by extension, reality itself.
‘I mean, that's the whole dichotomy,’ explains DiDio. ‘And the whole thing is: you put yourself out there, and you do experience all these things that can negatively affect you. It makes you want to retreat. Then once you've retreated, you're trapped within yourself and in your mind. That's one of the worst places that you could possibly ever be: trapped inside your own head and having to deal with things that you can't. At least with the outside world, you can walk away from it sometimes, or physically remove yourself from certain things. But you can't physically remove yourself from yourself.’
We live in a time when we can switch on the horrors of the world at a push of a button. We curate the way we perceive the world. That has a dangerous power. It presents a certain peril which Vein.fm seem to want to convey on their new album. The world most liable to ruin us is the one we create for ourselves – filtered through the unreality of our web browsers. DiDio describes the smartphone as a ‘pacifier’.