Vanna - The Search Party Never Came
Date Released: May 6, 2006
Metalcore, melodic hardcore, post-hardcore etc. Do we really need to make up more esoteric names for the same type of music? In the last three years record label after record label has put out the same cookie cutter bands with the screaming vocals, melodic high-voiced back up singers, pounding drums, screeching guitars and a mostly non-existent bass lines. It's like the boy-band trend of the late 1990s except this time the dudes are wearing makeup and are now attempting to play their instruments (not to mention they have a cool new hipster attitude to boot). Don't get me wrong, I'm just as much a part of this scene that I secretly resent, and I am aware of the irony of the philosophy of emo and the apparent self-depracating nature of this review, but I digress. There are many stereotypical bands which dominate the emo scene nowadays: From First to Last, Escape the Fate and Silverstein to name a few. Epitaph Records, a very prominent indie label which once promoted such upstanding punk-rock bands like Rancid and NOFX has dug its heels into the emo scene with great gusto, embracing two of the aforementioned bands (FFTL and ETF) with great gusto and enthusiasm. Which brings me back to the main idea of this review, Vanna's abominable wreckage of a debut EP The Search Party Never Came, a CD shamelessly overpromoted by Epitaph Records. I found out about this band about six months before buying their EP. I had gone to their myspace page and heard an unimpressive and uninspired emo band trying desperately to be "hardcore". In those six months I never even gave the band a second thought, turning my attention towards bands such as Every Time I Die, Pompeii, Murder By Death and other wonderful acts that have graced my ears. But when I purchased concert tickets to the 2007 Epitaph tour, I found out that Vanna was touring with the Matches and I Am Ghost, two solid bands, so I thought I might have judged the band too quickly. I bought their EP for five dollars at the local record store the next day. I was not in for a pleasant surprise.
The Search Party Never Came opens with "A Dead Language for a Dying Lady", in my opinion the only decent song on the album, despite its horrible lyrics about the murder of a young woman (does this sound familiar to anybody? Why must we turn a chance to say something meaningful into a pseudo-gothic murder spree?). The opening of the song is a thumping intro with miedium-tempo guitars and pounding double-bass drums and catches the listener right a way. The intro does not flow well into the song and is soon forgotten among the abysmal screaming, whiny singing and barely distinguishable riffs. The next track "A Champagne Feeling" takes an approach that I found to be akin to Fear Before the March of Flames. However, where FBTMOF excels (rotating and mathy time signatures, strange guitar riffs and so on), Vanna falls short. There is a pitiful attempt at a breakdown halfway through the song, but it seems like they were just trying to put a tired spin into a dragging song. "I am the Wind, You are the Feather" is the third track on the CD which opens with a Dallas Green style singing rhythm that could have proved to be very catchy and somber, had it not been for the random and needless breakout that occurs around the 25 second mark. The song lacks direction, it just gets annoying at the halfway mark. Next is "Schadenfruede" which actually wasn't an awful hardcore song (mostly due to the absence of the singing vocalists for a large part of the song). There were even some parts of the song that were reminiscent of Every Time I Die, though the sudden break down after what would have been a great rock and roll progression gives a grating end to what could have been a good hardcore song. The title track "The Search Party Never Came" is sloppy and really is a skippable track, the guitar lines are indistinguishable and the double bass drumming becomes tedious throughout the song. "She's A Real Battleaxe" is a fairly decent song, with the exception of the growling after the intro which had some interesting guitar volleys. After the attempted growls, the song sinks into a cool groove that flows into the end of the CD, which isn't half-bad, though it does not make up for the overall insipid album that preceded it.
All in all, I think Vanna should work on creating a sound that is more their own, instead of making a "dead attempt at a dying genre". I think that this EP should act as a wake-up call for those enamoured with this emocore genre. Let this CD be a martyr for those to come an example of uninspired lyrics and stereoptypical musicianship. The Search Party Never Came has some glimpses of songwriting prowess (which happen in the intros of their songs mostly, which unfortunately causes them to be forgotten fairly quickly). This review was not written to badmouth the scene, because, as I have mentioned, I am a part of this machine as much as this band is. I wish I could have said that this band is a guilty pleasure of mine, I was secretly hoping that they would be. However I do find this EP to be a good example of how this genre - though aggressive - can prove to bore even the most zealous of listeners. I hope their full-length which comes out this April, has a better producer, a clearer direction, some auto-tuned singing (it has to be done) and the double-bass pedal used with more discretion. My apologies to Vanna.
Good review, but to give the band some credit, their vocalist left just before they started recording and the two guitarists had to do all the vocal parts for this and I think the whole transition there was just kinda hectic and it shows that they weren't really ready to record this. That being said, I'll still keep an open mind to their album that comes out this month.