The more melodic side of hardcore music can be a refuge for the more emotive yet hardcore-driven musicians. Its ability to translate meaningful lyrics while molded with the passion of heavy music makes it very attractive, and yet so many bands don’t quite get the formula down. Fortunately, Vanna have come a long way since their dorm room days. The harsh, explosive Vanna of This Will Be Our Little Secret and earlier seems foreign after listening to their newest full-length, & They Came Baring Bones. And yet, the rasping Davey Muise, the intertwining of scratchy guitars, etc. – they are all as recognizable as ever, equipped with a freshly produced, invigorating set of songs that do more than just cut to the quick of things.
What sets this album apart, from a purely stylistic standpoint, is that it has a relaxed mood about it. Even the straightforward, thrash-worthy songs hint at a bigger atmosphere. Be it Pharmakis’ soothing voice crooning out the choruses, or the excited but spacey guitar lines, Vanna has more in mind than just a formula for head banging. Smartly layered, with each listen there seems to be something that jumps out at the listener that went previously ignored. The album has resolve, resolve to mold the soft elements of guitar-driven rock with hardcore, and the result is a cohesive story about the lighter, charming side of death.
The feedback opening the album up would seem a little passé, were it not for the direction that “Black Bones” takes the listener; a fast-paced introduction that sets the tone for the rest of the album. And at no point does the energy let up. Save for an appropriately titled “Passages” interlude, the tracks are brimming with clever lyrics and interesting riffs throughout. Tracks like “Careless Men Lead Careless Lives” (featuring Matthew Lanner from punk outfit Greenery) show that Muise employs an almost poetic manner of screaming, comparable to the likes of mewithoutyou. At some times, the clean vocals will cut in and out to lighten the mood (“I, the Remover” is a good example of this, the opening lines syncopated with clean vocals). At other times, the tracks are very linear and heavy the whole time, like “Eyes Like the Tides”. Whatever the case, expect Vanna to shine through with the same kind of sound heard in their latest EP Honest Hearts.
While the album is solid, it really isn’t anything more than what we’d already expect from Vanna. Picking up right from Honest Hearts, it’s a slight change in direction, but empty of any great innovations. There’s a slim chance that this album, despite it being easy on the ears, will make any great waves in the post-hardcore community. Suffice it to say that this is no game changer, but that it also provides comfort to long-time Vanna fans looking for something familiar. The only thing that might indicate a different future for Vanna is the soft-spoken ending track, "White Light". While it's kosher to end an album with a soft touch, Vanna does it uncannily well, and it could hold potential as time goes on.
Throughout all of this, Vanna has proven that they can continually improve in songwriting capabilities and emotive power. & They Came Baring Bones is a delightful set of songs bound to move the listener, and while the territory isn’t groundbreaking, it’s breathtaking, to say the least.
2. I, the Remover
3. History on Repeat
4. Breathing at the Bottom
5. Scarlet Shroud
7. Silver Sun
8. I, the Collector
9. Careless Men Lead Careless Lives
10. Eyes Like the Tides
11. White Light
Vanna is a metalcore band from Boston, Massachusetts, United States. They formed in December 2004 with just Evan Pharmakis and Nick Lambert and recorded their first demo in a dorm room at MassArt using a drum Machine. Soon they recruited drummer Brandon Davis (who at the time was playing guitar for the band Therefore I Am), bassist Shawn Marquis, and vocalist Joe Bragel.... read more