Vanna really do get overlooked in the current scene. When the majority of the frontrunners of modern post-hardcore seem to have forgotten to be, y’know, hard, the Boston quintet have been plugging away in the background for over a decade now, regularly putting out albums with little to no fanfare. It’s a similar story with their sixth full-length All Hell – at this point, there’s pretty much no chance of Vanna elbowing their way though to the genre’s frontline, but they’re at least remaining consistent, and All Hell sees Vanna do what they do best.
And what they do best is act royally pissed off about more or less everything. They pull it off well too, with Davey Muise’s acidic snarl and such venomous lyrical cuts as “I walked with the devil, I spoke with God / They don’t care if you’re miserable” and “Everything and everyone you love is gonna burn in the end”. It’s certainly not a new approach, but it’s the unbridled ferocity of their frontman’s delivery that adds a more menacing, threatening air to the likes of Leather Feather. What’s more, there’s a distinctly jagged edge present throughout, something that most ‘heavy’ bands tend to leave out, but that gives All Hell a far more earthy, textured feel. Special mentions go to Joel Patuszak’s cleaner vocals which, instead of compressed to a thin, smooth paste, are given far more room to breathe and rumble, especially on the towering ballad Flower.
Where Vanna really manage to hold their own on All Hell is in their ability to create an air of genuine drama and consequence. The organic, more real instrumentation has much more drive than their more polished contemporaries which, in their album’s more anguished moments, only increases its believability. Take Candle Limbs for example, one of the more inspirationally motivating tracks on the album, and sit it next to a band like The Amity Affliction, a band who have essentially built their entire career on this kind of material. Vanna stand head and shoulders above them for two main reasons – they actually sound like they’re putting effort in, and there’s a feeling of real dramatic storming that a slick, clean production job can’t muster. The fact that Muise audibly pushes himself to his absolute limit in his vocal performances on this album (there are moments when he can clearly be heard straining and wavering) shows the passion and intensity that Vanna strive for, and on All Hell, it frequently shows.
Of course, All Hell suffers from a couple of issues that prevent it from being a great album. The guitars on the likes of Pretty Grim could do with a bit of beefing up, if only to mirror the intensity and savagery of the vocals, and closer Lead Balloon is the only real weak track in the way it seems to plod up until two-thirds of the way through. But other than that, there really isn’t much to complain about with All Hell, and it’s the kind of thing you’d expect from Vanna at this point. Bear in mind this is a band who have been honing their craft for over a decade, with All Hell being the natural conclusion. Yes, it may not be completely out of the realms of anything they’ve done before, but if nothing else, Vanna are a welcomely fierce change from what the majority of the post-hardcore scene has to offer. That they’re actually pretty good at what they do is definitely a bonus.
For fans of: Stray From The Path, Every Time I Die, Beartooth
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘All Hell’ by Vanna is released on 8th July on Pure Noise Records.