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Vanna
The Search Party Never Came
Epitaph Records
www.epitaph.com


For a second there, I was scared. The first few seconds of the first track contain enough double-bass drum to choke a cow. Just as I was thinking "Oh crap, not another death metal one-dimensional band", it changes. Really while there are smatterings of death metal, the genre Vanna definitively belongs in the emo-core area with a well-balanced approach to heavy highs and almost balladic lows.

Balance, that's a perfect description for this band. Amazingly they pull off so many different eclectic styles that they almost appear to be subtle nods to genres and feels, while maintaining a strictly unique wholeness. With the aforementioned double-bass you have the morbid growls reminiscent of Sepultura. With the easy lows you have the emotion that Dashboard Confessional fans yearn for. For the old-school metal fans you have the choir chants in the background of "I Am The Wind, You Are The Feather" that verge on epic, making me think of Queensryche. And finally you have that nod to traditional hardcore anthems with the group yelling in "Schadenfreude". Nice.

Normally, a lot of these aspects are just cheesy, but somehow Vanna just makes them work. They never take any single facet beyond the extremes into over-used territory - like with the initial drum sequence that comes to a point where it might lose effectiveness, but then it alters completely, leaving a wistful aftertaste. This works brilliantly in most cases, but in the case of some guitar lines, I was left wanting more - like in the break-out section of the already mentioned "Schadenfreude". But maybe wanting more is better than the opposite. Production aptly fuses these elements, bringing that ultimate coherence to the whole and that is easier said than done, so bravo.

While not mind-blowingly breaking into new territory, Vanna accurately uses older systems to create a solid amalgamation. And while everyone may not like all of the parts, there are enough pieces to keep everyone interested throughout. Worth the listen.

-bishop

Track listing:
1) A Dead Language For A Dying Lady
2) That Champagne Feeling
3) I Am The Wind, You Are The Feather
4) Schadenfreude
5) The Search Party Never Came
6) She's A Real Battleaxe


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Mike Doughty



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