Vanity – The Cast Shade

Vanity are a West Australian group that have been around since 2009 and that have put in some hard yards since then. They’ve played in excess of 150 shows across the country in their 4 years, and the value of their work ethic shows—it’s a polished offering this one. In The Cast Shade fans of hardcore will be treated to an absorbing and brilliantly-constructed work that is solider than a concrete slab and harsher than the Pilbara countryside.

The songs are extremely powerful, not just in terms of vocal chords and musical instruments being thrashed to within an inch of their life (although that power is certainly evident), but in terms of the fact that every track will seize a hold of you so strongly that you cannot help but feel it. The guitar riffs in particular are strong, heavy and well-measured. From the very opening track you’ll be engaged, in fact Vanity will defy you to do anything other than pay full attention, with the demented, hoarse screaming of Lonesome Passage haranguing you from the outset. There are also constant changes of pace in this quality introduction to the album, the banging guitar riffs take hold, slow down, speed up…you’re on your toes the whole time.

And The Cast Shade doesn’t let up for a moment; the maniacal, head-banging insanity is sustained throughout. It demonstrates the mass of energy that there is to this album overall; the drumming is furious, the guitar riffs are powerfully heavy, and the vocals are rapid-fire bursts of screaming effort that suit the genre well. They don’t lend themselves to being particularly easy to decipher or understand, those vocals, but they don’t need to either, they function well in a role that you could say is like a military drill-sergeant, screaming furiously at you to get the hell up and mosh your brains out to the driving, gripping guitar grinds and drum beats that are punched out with military precision.

I would say that tracks to watch out for include Vice Life and Cherish, but they will announce their arrival without you having to look out for them. There’s menace in the air as the former track kicks off, before it launches into a tirade of frenetic drumming, heavy, gripping tendrils of guitar riff and psychotic head-banging vocals. And the broken, searching heaviness of Cherish will drive you through a broad spectrum of feeling and drop you off at the end of it in a spent, cathartic state.

Overall, The Cast Shade is some very heavy, very hardcore, very polished work, sustained over thirteen solid tracks. Don’t come at it expecting to like it if you don’t like your music furious and frenetic, but expect to absolutely love it if you do. In this album the group shows it is capable of crafting something that sounds so professional it should be wearing a suit and flying business class, while at the same time sounding as furious as someone trying to rip themselves out of a straitjacket, and as powerful as someone who can probably do so. Vanity have put in the hard yards, and let’s hope they continue to reap the rewards of that well into the future. This is very, very good.

Rating: 25/28 days.

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