Review Summary: Skramz and violinz: a match made in heaven... or hell. Whatever sounds better.
Well this certainly looks familiar: a new EP on Bandcamp with a picture of a house on the cover. Is this an indication that the band’s material will be all too familiar as well? Well, sort of – but don’t count out Columbus, OH screamo act, Vowel, just yet. While their general sound is emotionally heavy and similar to contemporaries such as The Saddest Landscape, their latest release All the Sad Songs
brings enough new ideas to the table to improve upon usually dull aspects of the genre.
Most notably, what sets Vowel apart from other bands who combine the beauty and melody of post-rock with the chaos of screamo is the addition of violinist Amelia Bango. No faux-orchestra synthesizer preset or other instrument can quite capture the rawness or texture of the violin, and it truly adds another dimension of sound to the tracks. Desperate vocals combined with lyrics that provide the listener with harrowing imagery give All the Sad Songs
an ominous feeling throughout. Discomfort emanates from each song, despite brief moments of hopefulness that come and go like a relieving breeze on an unbearably hot day. If there is one thing to be said about the band, it is that they truly succeed in capturing an overall feeling of eeriness.
Right off the bat, She Was an Air Traffic Controller
is explosive and dark, telling the story of a girl who would like nothing less than to see the world go up in flames. While the mood is unquestionably there, there are some areas in which Vowel could use refinement. The CTTS-esque, dual vocal approach is hit or miss, for example, as the more melodic voice of the group can be grating at times and border upon being a bit too whiny. Nonetheless, the presence of multiple vocals adds variation and makes the stronger vocal segments all the more enjoyable.
Apart from slight vocal improvements that could be made, All the Sad Songs
is a very solid release from the unsigned screamo band out of OH. There is not one uninspired moment on the EP, and the musicianship is surprisingly varied from track to track, expectations aside. Unfortunately for Vowel, this particular breed of post-hardcore/screamo is in abundance at the moment (thanks to Pianos Become the Teeth and other “Wave” kin), and while they are plenty deserving, it may prove to be difficult for them to truly shine through the mass of other bands with similar intentions.