Vanna
The Search Party Never Came


3.0
good

Review

by Nathan Flynn CONTRIBUTOR (68 Reviews)
October 31st, 2010 | 24 replies | 7,690 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Vanna alternately hit their target exactly and miss completely in their uneven debut album

On a family trip to California one year, my quiet cousin said the only sentence I’ve heard him speak before 11 AM. He looked at my Chiodos shirt and mumbled, “Ever heard of Vanna?” I hadn’t, but ensured him I would. Four years later, I have finally fulfilled my word and am regretting that I hadn‘t given them a chance earlier.

Vanna are a band without a gimmick. The Devil Wears Prada has a Christian message and one stanza of clean vocals to mix it up, Emmure have the most brutal breakdowns on the planet and a feud with The Acacia Strain and Liferuiner are raving straightedges. On the other end of the ‘core’ genre spectrum are Vanna, five guys with really tight guitar lines and a reputation for being a really good live act. Because they don’t follow a formula and don’t have any message that they feel must be forced into every song, they touch on many topics in their songs, including stalking in the opening breakdown of closer “She’s a Real Battleaxe.” This freedom is one that Vanna exploits to their advantage and avoid repeating as much as possible, changing motifs as often as three times per song. As a result, the “album” clocks in at a very short 22 minutes but ends up sounding longer because of the distinct changes that they make. This makes them stand out as a shining beacon in the very formulaic genre that they occupy.

Another thing that makes them stand out doesn’t necessarily distinguish them in a good way: production quality. In the dark days before Joey Sturgis was the de facto producer for genericore music bands had to make the decisions for themselves. Vanna clearly made the wrong choice with Fred Archambault, most of the songs sound under produced and unrefined. While this end the careers of most other musicians, Vanna’s aptitude for live music shines through. The unrefined sound is something that the group is renowned for and actually, in some cases, makes them sound better. However, A Dead Language For a Dying Lady is almost unlistenable because of its poor sound. What the band lacks in production quality it makes up for in heart as they try to make it work with such bad equipment and actually construct an album that isn’t hindered greatly by this detail.

As if their poor equipment wasn’t bad enough, this album was recorded in the middle of a personnel change. Former vocalist, Joe Bragel, had recently been dismissed from the group and they hadn’t yet found a replacement. Undeterred, guitarists Nicholas Lambert and Evan Pharmakis each took on a vocal duty- Lambert doing the screaming while Pharmakis handles growls and clean- and it works extremely well. The two pronged attack, think Mike Hranica with a harsher sound, allows for the many motif changes to work as well as they do. Most bands of the post-hardcore genre have a very limited range of harsh vocals and because Vanna can mix it up with three- four including the inward screams at the beginning of ’Battleaxe’- distinctly different styles of singing and strong supporting instrumentation from drummer Brandon Davis, it makes them stand out in a positive light. Even though these vocals aren’t particularly notable, especially Pharmakis’ inconsistent growls, there is enough variety for the listener to ignore the shortcomings and get lost in the web they have woven.

This web is, regrettably, not a very cohesive one, as Vanna try to change things too often but it still prevents this from being a boring listen, something that it very easily could have been. None of the songs stick out as diamonds in the rough because as soon as they get a rhythm going, they change it up after a couple of minutes. This is not surprising, as they had to find a new creative direction to go in after the loss of Bragel but they try to go in too many direction on one album. This is a very ambitious project that just falls short of its mark, but is a quite good debut album, especially given the circumstances.

Recommended tracks: A Dead Language For a Dying Lady, Schadenfreude, She’s a Real Battleaxe



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Chart.
3.5
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ConsiderPhlebas
October 31st 2010



6157 Comments


Good review. Might have a look at this.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2010



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks dude! I'd give this a listen but from what I've heard, none of their other stuff is as good as this is.

Digging: Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt

Xplisit
October 31st 2010



1646 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Band is not great, but this is my favorite release of theirs. They've gone downhill ever since, with Curses being their last respectable effort imo

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
October 31st 2010



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I agree Xplisit

Also who are the anonymous neg's from? I need reasons on why my writing sucks

botb
November 1st 2010



9288 Comments


"and Liferuiner are raving straightedges"


stopped reading there

Xplisit
November 1st 2010



1646 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

remake of Dead Language is mad gay

HighandDriving
November 1st 2010



3232 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lol you chirped me for liking Vanna, yet you listen to them.

You hypocritical fag.

Curse.
Contributing Reviewer
November 1st 2010



7762 Comments


He looked at my Chiodos shirt


stopped reading here

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
November 1st 2010



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

@ high is that directed at me of Xplisit?

@ curse I only had the shirt because I was in 7th grade and felt a serious connection to the Michigan scene, so I bought it to support them

HighandDriving
November 1st 2010



3232 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Xplisit.

Fun fact: his ex-gf cam whored on the forum site.

EyeForAnEye
January 5th 2011



1678 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Emmure have the brutalist breakdowns on the planet


Kind of stopped reading there.

And your rant on production makes you sound like you're sucking up to Sturgis as he is the savior of Post Hardcore. Dead wrong.

I for one really enjoy both their old and new material, including their new EP with Davey Muise.

Not negging or posing.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
January 5th 2011



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The new EP is pretty good from what I've heard. I meant to come off as sarcastic for both the breakdowns and for the Sturgis comment but I guess it didn't come off that way. The production is terrible though, they could have done it on Garage Band.


FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
January 15th 2011



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Whoa the pos went away. What happened?

Spluger
March 5th 2011



1013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Shouldn't this be listed as an ep? I mean, it IS only 6 songs.

It's fun though regardless of the quality. I saw them live and the place went absolutely nuts when they came on. After they were done half the place left before IWABO came on stage xD.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 6th 2011



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's listed as an album, not an EP, on their site.
They're really good live. I saw them last year so they didn't play anything from this but were still a lot of fun.

Spluger
March 7th 2011



1013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Yeah they played Dead Language at the show I went to and the crowd went fucking nuts. They also played Passerby from the new ep which was pretty sick because it wasn't even out yet.

FromDaHood
Contributing Reviewer
March 7th 2011



8963 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, they pulled that one out at the show I saw too. Dead Language would have been so cool to see live.

Spluger
March 7th 2011



1013 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Dead language was great. IMO Davey is the best vocalist they've had lol.

xfearbefore
October 2nd 2011



1218 Comments


EDIT: Nevermind.

Digging: Placebo - Sleeping With Ghosts

Acanthus
December 19th 2011



9514 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Picked this up on CD the other day, still rocks just as hard.

Digging: Ayria - Hearts for Bullets



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