While Vessels’ past is deeply rooted in progressive rock, their 2015 album Dilate marked the end of an evolution. Now rooted in the world of electronica, their sound was in stark contrast to the more natural sound that they had before: Entirely synthetic, downtempo and more focused on a cohesive package than a vibrant, varied one. Unfortunately, with both the 2015 release and the new special edition repackage, it wasn’t an entirely successful venture for them.
Vessels’ transformation was dramatic to be sure, but the album is more so hampered by these changes than assisted. The album features a very static style, with the introductory buzzing and skittering of Vertical feeling very much in line with everything up to the final returning track Beautiful You Me. While the latter track may feature a more chaotic arrangement, with plenty of little tinkering melodies and layers, the album never experiences a change of heart between the two tracks, very much sticking to its guns the entire way.
The lone new original track on the special edition, 4AM, even continues the trend. Its shuffling beats and eventual evolution into a buzzing layered affair sounds entirely in line with everything that came before. Taken as individual entities, the songs are very much enjoyable on their own merits, with the second half of 4AM in particular making for a nice, almost optimistic closing after a largely foreboding album, where the gigantic amount of songs over six minutes only helped them further meld into each other. It reaches the stage where the new remixes don’t even alleviate the album’s sluggish nature; the FaltyDL remix of 4AM is the only one to really alter the mood of the album for something more overtly bright, and does little to improve the overall package.
This is where it becomes obvious that Dilate is a victim of its structure, rather than its individual points. It’s a repetitive album that relies on one note, with a great downtempo electronic concept that shines in individual tracks but diminishes as a long-played piece of work. The tracks eventually blend together to the point that it becomes difficult to distinguish one piece from the others; something that works well as background noise or when picking and choosing individual tracks, but largely acts as a major detracting factor for an entire album. Vessels were bold to step into this direction, but it never entirely works out.