Review Summary: A disc that contains many treats in what could naturally have been a boring sophmore Metalcore release
From what little I’ve listen to of Vanna’s last album(3-4 tracks) and Brent Stephenson’s review, I have to say I had very high hopes for this album and thought that choosing this as my first review would be a huge task. On my first skimmed listen(not paying attention and listening to only what caught my ear) I felt the album was pretty boring. On the second pass through to see if I missed anything major and to hammer out the details, I found something incredibly different and fantastic. I felt as if my last name was Columbus and I just hit the New World.
The first problem I ran into was exactly what Brent addressed with the last album, where do these guys fit into the scheme of things genre-wise. After listening I decided I would put them as Metalcore/Post-Hardcore with a very melodic twist. This album is every bit as melodic as the last, with a much more polished sound. Although they went the route of making it a tad bit softer, the emotion is still there in full force and they produce a much more focused sound that is a lot less spastic on the scale of genres(I immediately threw deathcore and “emo” out the window.) The guitars still power through with a chuggy breakdown style but throw in some great riffs and even incorporate some good ol’ classic rock, the vocalist seems to have gotten more into his skin and puts every bit of conviction into his lyrics as any good vocalist and the actual singing has become much better, but the drums still stick to the basics and stay with some average double bass patterns and sped up punk beats(minus a couple of grooves). The CD has some dull and generic parts but as if they were called upon, the band summons up something incredibly fun and there is at least one part in every song that makes you smile and say “I’m glad my ears were open at that moment right there.”
The album opens up with a nice little intro, which has some nice anticipation building drums under some spoken word lyrics that turn into deep screams over chugging guitar. It ends on great note as they promise to “make the earth shake”. Sadly, it’ll take a while for them to deliver on this promise but you’ll be very happy when they do. The first 3 tracks are fairly standard Post-Hardcore. Most of them have the same basic song structure, but there are definitely some bright parts. Most notably is the slow chorus that comes at about a minute and half into “The Same Graceful Wind”. It comes out of nowhere in a song that seems deeply inspired by Post-Hardcore in which some clean vocals are layered on top of nice clean screams and then some slow breakdown-esque guitar work with some more nice, even pitched screams. Then comes this chorus out of no where, very basic groove to begin with double bass and guitars hitting notes at about the same pace, as the singer leads with very clean vocals and you want to dance. Just smile and dance, all the while feeling the emotion and energy behind the simple words “I’m breathing the life back into love/ She’s coming around/ I’m breathing the life back into love/ She’s waking up” This chorus and when it comes back towards the end of the song are very very pleasant and unexpected treats. Other then that and couple other parts small parts, the first three tracks are kind of forgettable
Now let’s get to some earthshaking shall we? Track 5. Trashmouth. What a wonderful title to start at. It opens with some beautiful erratic guitar and some nice drum work to build your anticipation for the rest of the track. Slows down and adds a nice driving guitar rhythm and some nice He Is Legend-like vocals. Some nice metalcore for most of the track with nice classic rock slow-building drums in the middle followed by some guitar sweeps under some more nicely done screams. Although they are done throughout the whole album, the clean register screams really shine through and you appreciate being able to understand what the guy is saying. My only gripe with next couple of songs is that despite there being some fancy guitar work; the song structure is the same. A couple of cool breakdowns with mellow cleanly sung vocally driven parts, which despite being well delivered still make you wonder where some of the originality went from the last track. My favorite track on the album, “Sleepwalker”, follows. Pretty fast start up, beginning with his register scream as the last couple of songs, but the vocalist starts to use his range. Deep death growls and some well done high-pitched outward screams mixed up with the register and normal old-fashioned yelling. There are 2 decent breakdowns in the song, but the vocalist really carries this song, which would have been average otherwise. As wonderful as it is to see what the vocalist could, at the same time I wish he did it in a couple more of the tracks.
On the whole, the album impresses me with previously mentioned tracks and even a couple I didn’t mention(“Life and Limb” and “The Sun Sets Here”). The only gripes I see are the song structure starts to stagnate and like the last album the bass isn’t still around nearly as much as it should be. The album is a strong sophomore album and builds on where they left off. They keep that nice melodic feel while delivery something that is heavy and never feels overbearing with seriousness. A fun album that is sure to please and give you same nice treats if you choose to open your ears.