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Vangough - Between The Madness CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.96 | 56 ratings

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kev rowland
Special Collaborator
Honorary Reviewer
5 stars Although it isn't that unusual for me to review an album more than once, normally years pass between the two. Yet here I am totally rewriting a review that I only completed yesterday. When I listened to the CD I was distracted by the mix, which I believed not to be correct, and said so in the review. But, what I wasn't aware of was that the band also felt that the mix wasn't as good as it could have been, so pulled the complete run of CDs, remixed it, and then put new CDs in the digipaks. It was just those that had been sent out as promo's that weren't replaced. Clay then provided me with the new mix as a download and I have been playing it all day (when not in meetings ? why does the work I get paid for get in the way of the work I actually want to do?). What I am now listening to is far more balanced, which has allowed me to get past my initial views and instead listen to the album as I should have in the first place.

Now, I have been a fan of Clay Withrow's music since I first heard 'Manikin Parade', and I have been lucky enough to hear everything they have released since, so when I became aware that a fourth full-length album was coming out I was suitably excited. Jeren Martin was again working with Clay on bass, while they had a new drummer in Kyle Haws plus a few guests on additional guitar and strings (the additional guitarist, Jay Gleason, plays with Jeren in a death metal band!), Clay of course provides everything else. Here is an album that has seen the band grow, both in musical style and in stature. The harmony vocals are bang on, and the restrained use of falsetto here and there provides an additional edge, much as Roger Taylor used to do with Queen. There is music that rocks and belts along, or music that is way more gentle and refined, with a control that is breathtaking. Clay provides some breathtaking solos and runs, or crunching riffs, or acoustic, whatever is right for the song itself while Jeren seems to instinctively know what is required to lift the piece itself, either providing the bedrock, or additional back up melodies, or even not playing at all and allowing the space created to be used by others. Although it will be viewed by many as progressive metal, there are passages and even complete songs that are far more crossover in aspect than one would expect from the genre, and the result is something that has incredible depth and breadth.

This is music that refuses to be pigeonholed, with the band at times firing as a metallic monster (with Clay doing some wonderful James Hetfield style vocals) while at others it is way more restrained and thoughtful. There is a wonderfully delicate string section in "Separation" which really accents the guitar on either side, while the title track demonstrates a very different side of the band with Clay on acoustic guitar, supported by some wonderful violin and cello. From that we go into "Vaudeville Nation" which is as hard hitting a prog metal monster as one would wish, with some great interplay.

I gave their debut 5 *'s, and sine then each release has had 4 (not too shabby), but I am pleased to say that this is back to top marks. It is easily the best that they have done, and all power to the guys for pulling the original release and making this available.

kev rowland | 5/5 |


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