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Vane - Black Vengeance

Black Vengeance
by Robert Amer at 14 January 2019, 8:15 PM

The campy antics of Pirate Metal cartographers, ALESTORM, have a very niche time and place for their alcohol-fueled songs: parties, concerts, festivals, and humor-seeking explorations down YouTube rabbit holes. As fun as they are to drink in live, their songs tend to reduce pirates to drunken and reckless scallywags. This may be true in some cases, but there is a more historically accurate dimension they neglect to include in their songs, probably to preserve their festive, signature sound. Pirates were the natural force that emerged out of the monopolies held by empires during the colonial era, just as mafias and other hierarchical systems of organized crime naturally arise out of government regulations. It is curious that there has been a sustained interest in psychologically dense mafia movies for decades while pirates have continued to largely be portrayed as adventure-seekers or rascals, although their intentions and history are more in line with mafiosos rather than Robin Hood or the flighty Captain Jack Sparrow. VANE offers a return to these authentic roots through its unique brand of sea-salted Melodeath in the Polish quintet’s debut full-length release, “Black Vengeance”.

The album was inspired by the biography of, “…one of the strangest pirates \[of the Golden Age of piracy],” as explained by the band. Overall, the songs display an organic sense of direction that obviously serves the ensemble’s conceptual aim; they are consistently dark, melodic, and energetic. Some tracks are exceptional in their storytelling. “Born Again” serves as an energetic exposition, sowing the seed of vengeance that continues to sprout for the duration of the album. It introduces the listenable song structure pervading the release, as well as aggressive riffs, supportive guitar solos, and scream-sung choruses, though this last element not present on every track.

What is a pirate story without an alluring lass?  “Spilling Guts”, one of the most unique songs, features this vital character. Guest vocalist, Ewa Pitura, sings the role of the femme fatale with palpable sensuality and also provides some textural brushstrokes when she is not singing the lead, mingling with Marcin Zdeb’s powerful and well-enunciated screams. The characters’ relationship is also composed into the harmonized, and interweaving lines in the guitar solo, the only one utilizing such techniques on the album. Another exceptional song—this one with its catchiness and melodic hooks in the guitars—is “Mutiny”. It begins with a subdued, seafaring intro that later appears as the distorted verse. This is one of the most accessible songs on the album and was featured as a video, which can be checked out below.

The last three tracks close the album out with a great sense of finality. “Black Vengeance” is one of the most aggressive tracks on the album, which is encapsulated in its headbanging-inducing verse. It also features a stormy breakdown in the bridge that looks to be a promising live moment. (SPOILER ALERT: SKIP TO FINAL PARAGRAPH IF YOU WANT TO EXPERIENCE THE STORY WITHOUT KNOWING THE ENDING) “Davy’s Grip” is a solid track also featuring many elements executed well throughout the album, setting the stage for the eerie finale, “Hangman”. In it, the protagonist is faced with death and the mounting tension includes ominous keyboards beckoning him towards death. A well-timed firing of motivic cannon balls punctuate the album following the last guitar solo, layering the voice of the femme fatale, the ominous keyboards, the opening and refrain from the album’s first track, and perhaps other parts, with the final words screamed being, “…so who is the victim now.”

Overall, VANE has done a fantastic job in their full-length release musically and conceptually. There are many strong tracks with only a couple that do not display the same strength so consistent throughout the release. There is the saying, “red sky in the morning, sailors warning.” It seems there will be more unfortunate tales to come of sailors having to part with their booty, or other fatally doomed pirates, as the sun rises into a red sky for this promising act.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Born Again
2. Edge of the Cutlass
3. I Am Your Pain
4. Randy Dandy-O
5. Death’s Season
6. Spilling Guts
7. Mutiny
8. Rise to Power
9. Black Vengeance
10. Davy’s Grip
11. Hangman
Marcin Parandyk - Vocals
Robert Zembrzycki - Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Mateusz Gajdzik - Lead/Rhythm Guitars
Łukasz  Łukasik - Bass Guitar
Marcin Zdeb - Drums
Ewa Pitura - Guest Vocals on “Spilling Guts”
Record Label: Independent


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