ALBUM: VUKOVI – ‘Nula’

“What does the future hold for the female of the species?”

Welcome ‘user17359’. You will shortly be departing Trinity Lunar Port for Mars Sanctity Terminal, immersing yourself in VUKOVI‘s latest record for the duration. Since their formation twelve years ago, the genre-defying Scottish duo – comprised of vocalist Janine Shilstone and guitarist Hamish Reilly – have been in flux; roaming rabid wolves sinking their teeth into a constantly evolving sound all their own. From 2011’s It Looked So Good On Me… and 2012’s …But I Won’t Wear You Again EPs, to 2017’s self titled debut and 2020’s Fall Better LP, Janine and Hamish’s chemistry is infectious; a combination of “dark themes and dirty fucking riffs.” Now, VUKOVI are exiting the stratosphere and heading into deep space with sci-fi/horror NULA; a conceptual album set in a distant (yet unnervingly familiar) future. Inspired by sci-fi escapism like Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, NULA is a cyberpunk abomination; a sonically ambitious mutation of anthemic pop melodies.

Opening with the cinematic ‘DEPARTURE’ and moshpit inducing ‘TAINTED’, VUKOVI set the tone for NULA. “You’re a fucking monster…” Considered the property of nefarious capitalist corporation Sanctity, and exploited through inhumane experimentation for over twenty five years, the eponymous extra-terrestrial is an otherworldly reflection of Janine’s own survival; her subconscious trauma bleeding into her lyrics. Compulsive, creative and unapologetic: We’d like to wish you a safe and pleasant journey.

“You think I’m a god… Fuck that, fuck you too!” ‘LASSO’ condemns pop idol worship – and highlights the music industry’s hypocrisy, through filthy, fuzz-drenched riffs and insatiable pop-tinged vocals. ‘QUENCH’ delivers sexual liberation with moxie and nu metal groove. “I’m not in love, just wanna feel your touch!” Infused with synthetic noise, ‘SLO’ follows; an ethereal exploration of OCD: “You have a toxic reliance on it and in your eyes that condones reckless behaviour.” Yet, despite feeling broken and vulnerable, NULA (and indeed Janine) re-claims control on mid-album pop-punk-rager ‘I EXIST’, through blood, death and raucous riffs – courtesy of Hamish’s live wire intensity! “I’ve found you, motherfucker!” “I think about what’s happening in the world too much… The greed. The cruelty. There’s a lot of that on the record,” Janine explains. Depression… It’s a temporary feeling. Emotionally driven, VUKOVI stage-dive into anthemic chaos, stronger and feeling empowered: “Stand up / You’ve got to fight… / I know it’s tough / But it’s not enough to give up…”

“I AM NULA. AND I AM FREE.”

After brief respite during interlude ‘ATTENTION’, the disquiet duo’s distorted disorder continues on ‘SHADOW’, ‘HADES’ and ‘KILL IT’; three tracks propelled by an infectious combination of electronic instrumentation, heavy-as-fuck hooks, and raw emotion. “One taste of blood is not enough…” For NULA, revenge is poetic. Confronting abuse with justified angst – “Oh, I’ve waited, for retribution / I’ll watch you burn…” – ‘HURT’ is heavy metal catharsis, whilst ‘SAD’ is a somber realisation that you can never forget trauma. Just like Ripley in Ridley Scott’s Alien, NULA is a survivor realising her own strength and resilience. “I’ll never be whole but I’m a fighter / Kick me in the dirt but still like dust I’ll rise / I’m gonna be heard.” There is no closure, but that is okay. NULA represents female empowerment, and there is life after trauma.

So… “What does the future hold for the female of the species?” Janine pauses for a zeptosecond during closer ‘XX’ before declaring in her distinct Scottish drawl: “She is the answer to extinguishing this toxic masculine cesspool of a society. She deserves to live in a world without fearing for her life… She is the future of humanity… and it’s time to fuck the system!”

Ken Wynne
@Ken_Wynne

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