Review Summary: Hardly anything missing here
The Missing sees Vaura capitalize, in a more resounding and lasting way, on the assimilation of elements from various genres that they had applied to their debut. With the band members staggering pedigree’s in the realms of metal, post-punk and goth-rock and having already released one hell of an album Selenelion, one would hope they continue their interesting amalgamation of genres. The Missing unleashes all the catchiness of goth-rock staples from years ago, post-punk’s penchant of progression coupled with black metal’s signature atmosphere to drown listeners in gloomy melancholy while remaining quite pleasant to listen to.
Vocalist Josh Strawn and Kevin Hufnagel, of Dysrhythmia fame and one half of the newly reformed Gorguts, supply brilliant technical leads and danceable gothic rhythms throughout the record's run time. The technicality of some of their guitar work may at first go unnoticed because of the exceptional musicianship, each track being entirely appealing and in this manner the listener is engulfed by sound before being able to nitpick individual sections. The hook-laden choruses of bands like The Cure can be heard echoing throughout the whole record as well as Strawn does a lovely job in donning the gothic ethos, his voice mostly inhabiting the contemplative end of the spectrum but saves a few surprises for other tracks on the album. The blast beats, fills and overall drum work by Charlie Schmid litter the album with moments of acute excellence. A track like, “The Fire” sees the band launching a full-out black metal musical tirade and is easily the heaviest track presented on The Missing. That heaviness continues till the end of the song, but is polished over by Strawn's croons and whispers; his cool yet touching vocals add a dimension of accessibility to the tracks outer harshness.
Other tracks rival complexities of some of post-punk and metal’s more technically gifted bands. “Passage to Vice” is quite the tour-de-force, not in terms of sheer power but dizzying intricacy. The song bounces around sounds and genres, never quite succumbing to reductionist philosophy as every instrument, every note is given its fair share in the spotlight. Even the bass provided by Toby Driver, of Kayo Dot infamy, brings moody, jazz like lines that aren't drowned out by the other members of the band. Every element is brilliantly placed to allow for utmost exposure. Opener, "The Missing" and "Mare of the Snakes" demonstrate the band's goth-rock sensibilities as they aren't afraid to meander in those introspective and dark romantic abodes. Strawn's vocals even bring to mind those deep, drowning overtones the likes of Ian Curtis and Robert Smith had pioneered back in the early 80's. The closing numbers give nods back to the band's metal heritage, "Brace for Collapse" sees Strawn scream away; tearing the foundation and leaving a soundscape that captures both the sulky bleakness of goth-rock and gritty power of metal.
The only real drawback about this record may come from the respective elitists in the genres that Vaura play with on The Missing. The metalheads could say this isn't heavy enough or not metal at all, goth kids might declare this not brooding or dark enough… either way, you'll never satisfy everyone with a release and that's where Vaura actually shine. They aren't trying to please everyone, instead they streamlined this album with much less filler material than their debut and built upon what they felt their sound encompassed. The Missing was one of the more unheralded albums of 2013 and one that shouldn't be missed if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned bands or styles.