Review Summary: Post-metal minus all those ambient parts. A nice stepping stone for those that want to get into post-metal, but can't stand ambient parts.
Post-rock, Post-metal, or anything that is of the sorts tend to be very unforgiving genres, but they reward the patient. Most bands that play diverse genres such as these allow there songs to unravel their beauty (or brutality) through long drawn passages to a huge climax, maybe even multiple climaxes. Most of the common public today though doesn't have the attention span for such long songs, and genres such as these usually remain in the underground.
When my friends become intrigued in which music I'm listening to, I'll usually let them tag along for a listen. At times when I'm playing bands such as Isis, Neurosis or Pelican, they often get bored during the ambient sections, often begging for those heavy parts to come back. They often tell me that I listen to generally boring music, and that I should lend a listen to Atreyu or The Devil Wears Prada. After I try to explain to them that those bands are terrible, they usually give me the handy dandy, "Whatever dude," and walk off.
That's where a band like Switzerland's Vancouver
comes into play.
The best way to describe their sound is to take Isis and Neurosis, slam them together, and pick out the ambient parts. Within this, they still maintain a hardcore/sludge sound, but their songs aren't usually long, brooding epics, but rather 4 minutes of pounding guitar work and crashing drums. The vocals sound quite a bit like Aaron Turner of Isis
, but in a higher pitch altogether. The guitars themselves pack a mighty punch, going from undistorted intros (such as "Apollo") to a brooding sludge/hardcore mix (such as opener "Miraschino"). Sadly though, the bass is mostly lost in the heavy wall of sound created by the pounding guitars and thrashing, beating drums.
Vancouver is a nice step for those who want to get into post-metal, but have a hard time staying with the music during ambient parts. There are two separate tracks that are all ambiance, "Damocles" and "Exosphere," that flow into their next track perfectly, which will allow new listeners to gain a tolerance to listening to ambient parts. If they'd rather not, they could always just skip those tracks, and continue with the heaviness.
If there is anything that will surprise you, it's the last track, "The Portrait." Incorporating no screaming and no distortion and tribal style drumming, it's like the rest of the album, minus any heaviness at all. Some might find this a bold and daring move, and enjoy it, whilst others will find that this destroys the album altogether, taking out any respective flow the album had going.
And that's Vancouver in a nutshell. A post/sludge metal band that doesn't incorporate a lot of the ambiance often found in the genre, but more of the heaviness that is found in the genre. If you find that you, or one of your friends, is interested in this style of music, but has a shorter attention span, let them spin this a few times to gain a tolerance, and then let them (or you) go along onto bands that incorporate more of it.