Album: And They Came Baring Bones
Genre: Heavy Rock
Label: Artery Recordings
Boston is a great city; we’re an angry, cocky bunch, but truth be told, we have every right to be. Sure, the weather sucks, but other than that, we have a lot to be proud of, all of our sports teams, at the very least, consistently put up a good fight, and our music scene, while a bit crowded, is hugely impressive. Bands like Vanna, A Loss For Words, and Therefore I Am (our fingers are still crossed for a reunion show) have become local heros. Those bands, and countless others, fought their way through the local scene, and have gone on to tour the world, becoming icons of what every local band hopes to one day achieve, and giving local fans something to be proud of. Vanna has been one of the most prominent and successful bands out of Boston since The Receiving End of Sirens, they’ve gone through several line up changes; three different vocalists, and three different drummers, but they’ve always remained a strong force in the Boston music scene. Each transition has been nerve-racking for fans, wondering if the new member can live up to the reputation that Vanna has earned for themselves. Their previous vocalist, Chris Preece had been with the band throughout their rise through the ranks of the music scene, and his position in the band had become the accepted norm over the years, he had become a permanent fixture in Vanna, and his spot would be a hard one to fill. After Preece left in 2009, he was replaced with Davey Muise, formerly of Seeker Destroyer, which had the potential to be the recipe for something great, Vanna was a great band, and Muise was great vocalist, and did fantastic work with Seeker Destroyer. But would the two work well together? More specifically, would Muise’s exceptionally gritty scream, compliment Evan Pharmakis’ clean vocals? The first songs Vanna debuted with Muise felt a bit off, but they were mostly re-recorded versions of old songs like “Dead Language For A Dying Lady”, that were very familiar to fans, so the new vocals naturally felt slightly out of place among the well known instrumentals. That, along with another re-recorded song, and three new songs hardly captured the full spectrum that the band had to work with. It was difficult to pass judgement on the new line up until their first full length with Muise, And They Came Baring Bones, then the revamped band’s full creative potential, and vocal ranges and compatibility would be more apparent.
While The Honest Hearts EP couldn’t possibly capture everything Vanna had to offer, given such limited space, and two songs that had already been done by the band, “And They Came Baring Bones” did an excellent job of displaying a level of versatility that has never been seen from Vanna. The band’s signature fast-paced metalcore is still very much alive in songs like “Silver Sun” and “Eyes Like the Tides”, but I would have to say, the stand out tracks are those that showcase a new side of Vanna. While “White Light” and “Scarlet Shroud” don’t follow the typical formula for a Vanna song, they are certainly the standout tracks on the album, starting off at a downtempo pace, using nearly the entire song as a very gradual build up, cut with Pharmakis’ clean vocals, resulting in a very powerful and driving conclusion, juxtaposing Muise’s and Pharmakis’ vocals over top of each other in a perfect dissonant harmony. The end result is a very interesting, dynamic, and creative song, that leaves a lasting impression on the listener. I could listen to this album straight through, several times, but those are the tracks I would have to take the time to repeat.
I’m honestly a bit unnerved by saying this, at the risk of being heckled and berated by angry Bostonians, but And They Came Baring Bones is, by a substantial margin, Vanna’s best offering to date, in any of their various line ups. And once fans hear this album, I doubt anybody will argue with that statement. Albums like The Search Party Never Came and even A New Hope had their iconic songs, but they didn’t feel nearly as complete or dynamically interesting as And They Came Baring Bones, they were lacking a bit of solidarity that is very much present in their new album. Long-time Vanna fans have nothing to be concerned about, Boston certainly still has something to be proud of when it comes to Vanna; now more than ever before.
Review written by: Michael Hogan