Some albums come my way about which I don’t have many words to share. I’m often wordy, but these albums just don’t strike my inspiration anvil. Upon listening to the new album from Vangough, this is exactly my predicament. I’m even fluffing up this introduction just for the sake of length! Anyways, Vangough’s new album “Warpaint” deserves a review, as it is a great album and I didn’t think it should be relegated to the “I like it but I’m not reviewing it” folder.
Vangough hails from Oklahoma City, and I could tell that from hearing the album. The band consists of Kyle Haws on drums, Jeren Martin on bass, and Clay Withrow on guitars and vocals. There are some other guest musicians here, too, playing such instruments as violin and cello. Overall, I find the musicianship on “Warpaint” to be clear and precise.
The band plays what most call progressive metal, but part of me says that metal isn’t their main influence. There are definitely some post-grunge and alt rock influences here, as I can hear it in the vocals and melancholy lyrics especially, but also in the particular distortion tone on the guitars. They certainly do love the galloping riff style and loads of distortion, but they combine it with some smoother and more explosive moments that really feel great.
Believe me, the guitars here are pretty amazing. They chug and strain, following along very well with the grooves. The rhythm section here is also excellent, with the drumming from Kyle particularly drawing my attention. His drumming waxes and wanes appropriately with the mood, being technical at times and faded into the background in others. From blistering speed to slower emotion moments, you’ll find this album does have some variety.
One of the album’s strengths is the amazing vocal performance. Clay’s vocals are haunting, harmonized, and hardened; definitely in that 90’s alt rock style that I love so well. Another strength is the band’s ability to end a song with a sweet, addictive instrumental; usually with some sort of novelty or eerie vocalization, too. I find this especially on the songs “Dust” and “Knell”, the latter being my favorite song on the album due to the awesome drumming and haunting vocals. The band definitely has a way of slowly building their songs to a grand finale, and the results are satisfying.
Now, I guess I should explain my initial remarks about this album. Yes, I really do like this album and I do find it to be enjoyable, but I really don’t get much in the way of feelings, either about the lyrics or the music. The band describes themselves as “eclectic”, but I’m not really seeing that. It just feels like a very American brand of alternative/progressive metal that never really strays too far from the mold. So, yes, the album is a good one, but it doesn’t really excite me like so many other albums have this year. Outside of a few spectacular moments, the album just feels very much the same from track to track.
So, Vangough has produced another solid album, and it really rocks at parts. In the end, though, I’m afraid it might be lost in the shuffle of brilliance that we are seeing in 2017. Last year, it might have stood out a little more. It’s definitely worth your time, though, and fans will be pleased.