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Vultress - Distance CD (album) cover




Heavy Prog

3.70 | 22 ratings

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3 stars (5/10)

Vultress is a bombastic heavy prog band from Philadelphia, in a similar vein to some of the newer heavy prog bands like Arcane and Haken, but with a bit more of a mainstream metal component. They are comprised of Paul Uhrina (drums/percussion), somebody going only by the name of 'Chucho' (bass), Jordan Gaboian (guitar) and Anthony Capuano (impressively handling both vocals and keyboards). "Distance" is their first full length album, in fact, if you look at the band photos they all appear to be about 10 years old. Okay, a bit of an exaggeration maybe, but they are pretty young, which makes the musical chops and epic ambitions on display all the more impressive.

After a taster EP of some of the music they had already put together, the band successfully organised a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to make their dreams a reality, culminating in "Distance", a whopping 76 minute suite with 6 parts and an interlude. Points for starting big, though with such a colossal amount of music (with so much squeezed into every song) it can be a bit overwhelming to sit through, especially given the album ends on a nearly 25 minute epic. The band does offer a good amount of variety to compensate, but like a lot of the CD-capacity-length releases that come out nowadays I feel like there was some room to streamline.

Structurally we see a lot of the modern tropes of newer heavy prog bands: long runtime; epic opening, closing epic (with repeat themes), interlude song, tracks running into each other, supernatural story based concept. These are all handled competently, though if I'm honest, I didn't really follow the story (though I'm sure others who might review this album could be able to explain it). There is also a lot of content that will feel familiar to fans of prog metal bands like Fates Warning and Dream Theater, whose influence is very much apparent.

I did enjoy the vocals, which were sometimes hinting at TMV. Capuano can really puts some welly into it when he wants to. I'm really not a fan of the death metal vocals that cameo in half the songs, though that's more of a personal preference, they are fairly decent for what they are. The instrumental sections is where the band really stretches out though, with some entertaining guitar acrobatics being the highlight.

That's not to say the band spends the whole time in one gear. As I mentioned earlier Vultress offer a good amount of variety. The epic opening "Part I - A Chord From Heaven" pretty much runs the gamut as an exciting opening, whereas "Part II - Returned To Earth" moves though death growls, melodic harmonies and spacier ambient moods. "Part III - The Path" then launches forward on one of the heavier riffs of the album. It's a comparatively shorter piece, and is probably one of the most 'straightforward' modern metal songs on the album to start with, but it goes on to explore some interesting territory in the instrumental second half.

If anything the second half of the album is even bolder, which is why its probably a good thing we are offered a breather in the shape of "The Siren's Song (Interlude)", which is a lighter, more subdued, vocal dominated piece that allows things to calm down for a couple of minutes. We ease back into things with "Part IV ? Reinvocation". It opens with dark and foreboding heavy sounds, before launching into a more sing-song part, and then some more growled vocals, before ending on clean vocals as the other instruments gradually peel away. In "Part V - The Siren Screams", the guitar pyrotechnics are once more on display, but by this point I'm starting to feel a bit tired. Luckily Vultress saved the best for last.

The album concludes with the 25 minute epic "Part VI - At The Edge". Jesus Christ, this song has so much in it the only thing I can think do is to list it in order: playful interplay of heavy guitar and delicate piano, death metal, then some jazzy wanderings, followed by clean sung modern metal, more jazzy keys, and we are not even halfway! We then get acoustic and melodic flavours, leading into a section that sounds like DT at their most melodic, a jazz-tinged transition back into some strong singing, even a little bit of vaudeville, before the song kicks back into prog metal. Nope, still not done! We are given some interesting acoustic rhythms, before the song begins building to the grand finale, with the song finally then winding down on some pensive acoustic guitar and keyboards. Phew! I think after that description you will probably know if this is the sort of music you would be interested in hearing.

The album does have its flaws, particularly with regards to what I've already said about brevity, though there are also a few issues with production (e.g. keyboards sometimes sounding a little cheap), and clearly Vultress still has some maturing to do. The instrumental sections really can go anywhere, which is good and bad point. Sometimes its fun to ride all the changes the band blast through in the space of a few minutes, sometimes you just want a song to get to the point, rather than stringing together several disparate parts. But overall there's a likeable youthful charm Vultress and their approach that's hard not to enjoy. Keep an eye on them for sure, I can only see them growing in powers from here. The album is on BandCamp at 'name your own price', so if this sounds like your sort of thing you should at least give it a listen.

ScorchedFirth | 3/5 |


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