Review Summary: An incredibly strong and impressive release by these guys.
2010 has been an incredibly successful year for Vanna, having being on Warped Tour, headlining crowded local and regional shows, making a name for themselves in the saturated 'core' scene, and withstanding member changes. However does The Honest Hearts EP match this success? In short, its an undisputed yes.
First thing to be noted is that the album is not over-produced. Which for me personally brings me closer to liking this band due to the fact they've been only sub-par to me, never being in any top ten lists in my head and are devoid of any real "HOLY CRAP!" moments. Heres something for people who might not understand what I'm saying about production lack: Imagine going to see your favorite band live and going "Hey! Thats not what they sound like on the album" this phenomenon is due to the fact many bands mask themselves in production. This release is essentially a "what you see is what you get" if you plan to see them live, this is likely what you'll hear. This may turn off some listeners with allegations of "No, this is a result of rushing" but I remember a day when production was not the cats meow.
Instrumentally, they are doing not much different from the A New Hope release, however they are doing it much better. They still have the driving, erratic guitars that dip between melodic playing and breakdowns and solid drumming. The new vocalist, formerly of the now dead Seeker Destroyer is now the frontman in Vanna and is not half bad, although some may have a problem transitioning from Chris to Davey. The actual singing by Evan has remained the same since ANH with little improvement, however his voice is one I would regard as good anyways. The only issue I still have is that the Bass is really hard to hear even for 'core standards and is fully heard in a short bit on "Sending Vessels".
The album is 5 songs long, 2 remakes and 3 fresh new songs. Longtime fans of Vanna will get an amount of nostalgic happiness with the remake of "Dead Language" which I feel was a good move for them. At a couple years old and a into a few releases at this point, it shows they are appreciative of their longtime fans who have stuck with them. The other remake is Trashmouth which is pretty solid as well and I feel is better than ANH's version. For the other three, each one has their attributes. The opener "Lost And Bound" blows open the door in typical Vanna fashion displaying Davey's vocal range very well and showing you what to expect. Sending Vessels opens with a decent drum/melodic guitar introduction lead into Davey and the rest of the band. This song displays the drummers talent the best displaying a very good double bass and timing. Passerby is the best song on the EP of the three originals and shows off the bands collective talents in an equal way. Whats good about this song is its usage of a breakdown. Its like a boxers moves, a series of jabs building up to one large finisher which I feel is the best breakdown on the EP which is much more refreshing than spontaneous breakdowns scattered throughout a song.
Vanna has finally found their position in the national scene this year and will hopefully continue with their success. Vanna fans old and new will appreciate this release and will definitely anticipate their Full Length.