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Vangough - Manikin Parade CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.51 | 52 ratings

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Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer
3 stars A worthy entry into a rapidly redundant genre, "Manikin Parade" breaks the mold of many other progressive metal bands by doing the impossible: simultaneously mimicking all of them. The end result is a familiar blend of sounds performed with enough energy and class to acheive its own voice.

The thing which first struck me, and after many listens impresses me the most, is the album's ambitious song writing. There is a ton of variety and complexity here, and almost all of it is good. The listener can expect the standard metal-crunch paired with the occasional high- flying melody or hook, but for the most part "Manikin Parade" commits radio suicie with every song due to its unconventional structures. In my book, this is great, and makes for an iteresting, energetic listen.

The next, is Clay Winthrop's voice, which dominates the album. His is one very much of the genre, but feels more genuine to me than others because he sticks to a register which feels comfortable and passionate. The listener will immediately be reminded of Pain of Salvation's Daniel Gildenlow, who is the obvious inspiration for Winthrop. Winthrop uses lyrically-dense verse and the occasional (and effective) use of aggressive spoken word, similar to many PoS albums. Gildenlow is, honestly, superior, but that's kind of a given; Winthrop is still great, and his voice carries much of the melodies and energy behind the tunes. Even his lyrics mirror the social/dogma criticism found through Gildenlow's work, and will sometimes leave the listener scoffing/grinning at the pretension of some of his statements, but overall they're quite good.

The band itself is pretty much par for the course in terms of technical ability, but the credits list everyone else as... Withrop. He plays guitar, bass, and keys! Once I found that out I was very impressed. His playing is energetic and versatile, but lacks the virtuosity one expects/demands in a crowded genre known for its skilled musicianship. The guitar especially is somewhat dissapointing, as it is mostly rhythm-based with few effective solos. More up-front is his keyboard playing, which uses a piano throughout most of the album. It and the synth sound is very reminescent of Symphony X. Overall, pretty good-- especially given its all from the same person, but it falls short of the "wow" moments seen in other group's musicianship; I would enjoy more depth in timbre. Instrumental performance is probably the biggest thing holding "Manikin Parade" back.

The album is exceptional, especially given that it's an independantly produced/released debut, and I can easily see Vangough becoming a much bigger band in the future (maybe with dedicated instrument players). Its ambition and enjoyability almost make it a 4 star, but it lacks the "oomph" to be as dynamic as its more veteren peers. Recommended to all fans of the genre.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Prog Leviathan | 3/5 |


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