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Vangough - Manikin Parade CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.50 | 50 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars An unexpected treat

Being randomly selected for a PA gift, owing gratitude both to the site and the artist, I promised to myself to write a review of this VANGOUGH debut when I would have formed a rounded opinion about Manikin Parade. The time has come to repay the favour so in the next few lines I will try to present my views as honestly as I can.

Bearing in mind that this is virtually a one-man band and self-produced album, the first impression is more than positive, listening to well-structured compositions, a decent production and a set of diverse musical ideas. The 75 minutes of running time also render this release a risky experiment, considering that it is only the debut album. What is dominant even from the first few minutes is the fresh and dynamic vocal style of Clay Withrow that, as other reviewers have mentioned, can not escape the strong influence of Daniel Gildenlow... However, this is the strongest element of the album and the fact that he can use his voice in several different ways creates an interest by itself.

In terms of composition, there were a few albums of progressive metal that came in mind when listening to this debut: Pain of Salvation's Remedy Lane, (vocal melodies and pianos) Dream Theater's Awake (particularly the keyboard lines) and Evergrey's The Dark Discovery (guitar riffs and sound). As can be clearly understood, the album is based on modern American-style progressive metal while retaining an enthusiastic approach throughout. The way the lyrics are sung (ranging between mellow and aggressive) and the compositional approach strongly remind again of Pain of Salvation; this is mainly apparent in the album's numerous mellow tracks (Handful of Dreams and virtually the entire second half of the album). What I see as a positive element is that there is a consistent degree of complexity and odd time signatures but nothing that would make this album an extremely technical prog metal release.

Obviously, there is a reasonable degree of musicianship which is evident from the first few tunes of Estranger and the title track. The ideas in the album generally evolve and do not remain static and at no point repetitive; usually they are dressed with melodic vocals and short clever guitar phrases (as in Christmas Scars). I personally prefer the more adventurous and powerful songs in the first half of the record (e.g. Disorder Quotient, Paradise for the Lost) but that is not to say that the rest of the compositions are weak, as the album can be enjoyed as a whole. Last but not least, Manikin Parade stands very strong lyrically most of the time with passionate lines.

Overall, a professional, solid debut with great vocals (the standout) and mature modern prog-metal compositions that are more than interesting but often lack originality; saying that, there is a great potential for an excellent release in the future and I will be looking forward to that. Recommended to fans of American-style prog metal and listeners of the above-mentioned bands.

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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