REVIEW: Vanna – ‘Void’

Vanna 2014

Artist: Vanna
Title: Void
Label: Pure Noise Records
Genre: Hardcore

Like a steam locomotive, Vanna have become a seemingly unstoppable force that has only gained momentum with each and every release. Though their thrashy spin on hardcore has always been their central driving force to their music, it was the creative risk-taking and progression displayed on the band’s 2012 release, The Few and Far Between, that showed they had much more up their sleeves. The brutality of their early work and the creativity of their most recent efforts came to one gnarly collision this year when they entered the studio with producer Will Putney, and the results will from now on be known as Void.

If I could use one word to describe this album, it would be ‘gritty.’ It’s not that this Boston band weren’t gritty before with their sound, but even the subject matter of the record is downright harrowing. The word ‘void’ itself goes by two definitions; either A: invalid, or B: an empty space. In some form or another, these both depict the nature of the songs which make up the record.

In a manner that embodies the genre, it’s almost as if Vanna wrote Void to only require a mere few play-throughs to get its point across. On the first time through, the mood, flow, and what I’d like to call “whoa” moments are what take the spotlight. Second time through, it’s all about the lyrics and riffs. Then on the final time around, it’s the nuances of the record that call attention. Any subsequent listens from this point and on pretty much serve to replay the experience, rather than build on what’s been caught and heard. It’s not like there were ever any expectations of something different from that; there aren’t any moments on the record where the group clearly stumble over themselves trying to do something that they aren’t capable of doing, and that has its upsides, along with downsides.

My chief complaint about this record somehow falls on the vocal front. The band’s lead vocalist Davey Muise has his end locked down to a “T,” but as soon as the album’s second track “Toxic Pretender” hits its midpoint, we’re introduced to Joel Pastuszak’s clean vocals which come off as a lax imitation of alt-rock leaning groups like Bullet for My Valentine. I will hand it to him for going the route of melodic metal in lieu of pop, but it feels like all of the momentum gained from hard-hitting parts are constantly brought to a sudden halt whenever they come around.

It’s those same hard-hitting moments that really make the record and give it such strong legs to stand on. The force and destruction exhibited on the title track sucker punches listeners right off the bat, and it’s not the only song on the album to do so. Rather than fading to a close like much of the rest of the album, “Yüth Decay” has a really massive buildup and payoff at its closing that’s utterly Earth shattering. Despite its slow opening, “Bienvenue” kicks things into an uber-high gear for one last time with a spoken word piece that hinges on rap, making itself to be one of the more unique tracks to come from this band.

At the very bottom of it, Void is one hell of a mixed barrel. On one hand, there are a lot of songs here that without a question, could be considered Vanna’s best material to date, and on the other, there are still a notable amount of tracks that fail to catch any attention. Even through this inconsistency, I can still foresee this as the start of something new and greater for this band, thanks to the (few) standout tracks on the album.

SCORE: 7/10
Review written by Adrian Garza — follow him on Twitter.

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