Review Summary: Epic symphonic deathcore? The underground world of metal never ceases to suprise me...
Everyone who listens to heavy metal is likely familier with deathcore. It's one of those annoying genres that just won't die, kind of like the horrendously low-quality one man black metal groups you find disgorging their generic filth upon the community of underground metal.
Anyway, deathcore has always been one of my most hated genres of music, and I always considered it an insult to true heavy metal, especially after stumbling upon the disaster that is Waking the Cadaver, in my opinion the worst band of all time. But when I saw this small article announcing Vanguard as 'Epic symphonic deathcore' I was intrigued, and set out on my quest to find it. It was not easy, as this is one of the most underground bands I have encountered, but I finally found it for download. The first track was fairly standard 'core and I was not impressed, and the second track, 'And the Story Begins...' was a speaking track, which, although interesting, did not have that much to offer. But then 'By Night' began to play, and this is when the album REALLY begins.
In short, Vanguard is a deathcore band with lots of different influences, including Symphonic, Folk, Progressive and Melodic Death metal, and relies very heavily on keyboards for orchestral and folk instruments. And while this may seem very strange for a deathcore band, it is pulled off amazingly well. None of it seems strained or irritating, the keyboards do not overwhelm the other instruments or vice versa, and none of the tracks are the same. Not only that, but unlike many bands of this genre, they do not lean on brutal breakdowns, pig squeals or other deathcore tricks to carry the music. Also, all of the band members can really PLAY, especially the guitarist who, in addition to some very nice riffs, is in charge of all the orchestral elements.
Erek and Ivor is a concept album telling some fantasy story (although there are spoken parts, most of the lyrics are impossible to interpret due to the guttural vocals) but is not one of those albums I listen to for the lyrics, it is an album I listen to for the music. I can honestly say that out of all the bands I have discovered in metal, I have never met a band quite like Vanguard, and I doubt I will ever encounter another.
Vanguard's line-up is as follows:
Joel Quartuccio - Vocals
Tyler - Guitar, Orchestral pieces
Ralphie - Bass
Bjarki Styrr - Drums