VANGOUGH – Between The Madness (2013)
“Between The Madness” is VANGOUGH’s third studio album just released by themselves, the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Kingdom Of Ruin from 2011 ranked by 0dayrox staff amongst the top-5 prog metal albums that year.
I love Vangough’s music. These guys are easily one of the best U.S. prog metal bands going right now.
Over the previous albums founder, singer and lyricist Clay Withrow developed a vocal technique that finds full maturation on “Between The Madness”. While musically the band strays little from – even builds upon, past styles with the music, lyrically this is their darkest, creepiest album ever. But here’s the thing; Withrow expresses these lyrics so well in a style with both rage and angst, and both palatable & agreeable. In other words, he’s a damn good vocalist only getting better. His vocal arrangements are one of the highest points about this new record.
Another highlight of the album is the addition of drummer Kyle Haws. His style is noticeably organized, nuanced, thought-out and together with bassist Jeren Martin they act as truly balanced force. Lead guitarist Jay Gleason makes several shred-tastic appearances to accentuate the technicality of Vangough’s instrumentation, while Justus Johnston and Jose Palacios make appearances on strings to further amplify the feeling of the songs and add a superb creep-factor touching level at times.
With “Afterfall” or “Separation”, if the creepy lyrics don’t get you, Withrow’s vocals will send chills up your spine, especially when he gets mournfully quiet as near end of “O Sister”.
Many of the songs are definitely composed to meet Withrow’s vocal arrangement. A good example is “Useless”, a brisk and vigorous when he’s raging early on, subtle and nuanced when he’s quiet and melodic.
“Infestation” and “Thy Flesh Consumed” rock pushing the boundaries of Vangough’s tempestuous new approach to a harder sound, while “Between the Madness” is a stark contrast as adds strings and acoustics blended in a really spellbound way. The latter is simply stirring, conveying emotions somewhere between sadness and submission to the lyrical themes within this record. It’s by far one of the best songs Vangough have ever written.
No song feels out of place or unessential, with “Schizophrenia”, “Vaudeville Nation”, the dynamic growth of “Kingdom Of Ruin” and “Corporatocracy” also coming out as highlights.
Vangough and their third opus “Between The Madness” are not your ordinary prog metal band / album. There’s not senseless ‘metalized’ arrangements, no common places. Vangough has always been more effective at conveying feelings than telling stories, but never before the songs had such a natural novel-like flow to them like in this new CD.
Mastermind Clay Withrow has pushed himself beyond his limits to expand the Vangough tone palate peppering his versatile clean singing with elaborate layers of harmony and polyphony, making for subtly different listening experiences each time.
Greatly produced by themselves (Vangough manages all the aspects of their art), the mixing job by Sterling Winfield is a stunning step forward for the band as well; clear output for the vocals, fat guitars and a particularly remarkable bright drum sound.
Put simply, there has never been a better time to jump off of whatever progressive metal train you’ve been on and ride with Vangough. “Into the dark I take you” Withrow jabs at us on one song. Make sure your seatbelts are securely fastened.
06. Between The Madness
07. Vaudeville Nation
08. O Sister
09. Thy Flesh Consumed
11. Depths Of Blighttown
Clay Withrow – Vocals, guitars, keyboards
Jeren Martin – Bass
Kyle Haws – Drums, percussion
Jay Gleason – Lead Guitars
Justus Johnston – Violins
Jose Palacios – Cellos
BUY IT !