Music » Critics' Choices

Vermilion

Saturday, May 17, at The Brick.

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Just as Pen & Pixel's gaudy diamond-studded text and ornate imagery defined the album art of the assembly-line thug-rap era, Roger Dean's swirly surrealist landscapes provided pinup fodder for the '70s prog pack. Dean still says "Yes" when challenging outfits come calling, which is why he lent his brush to the debut disc from Seattle's artful instrumental outfit Vermilion. On the cover, burnt-orange, biscuit-shaped boulders share space with a lean tree that resembles a disembodied llama leg, and two tiny silhouettes lurk in the shadows. Musically, the group ranges from heavy rhythmic outbursts to violin serenades, paying equal attention to sheer power and melodic structure. Its guitar and drum solos will leave awestruck enthusiasts in pools of drool, but the quartet avoids wank overload, using its show-off segments sparingly and framing them in the context of coherent compositions.

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