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Vangough - "Warpaint" (CD)

Vangough - "Warpaint" CD cover image

"Warpaint" track listing:

1. Morphine
2. Dust
3. The Suffering
4. Gravity
5. Till Nothing's Left
6. Knell
7. Black Rabbit

Reviewed by on March 6, 2017

"...what did prog fans do to get so lucky at the very beginning of the year?"

After Soen's latest release just a scant few weeks ago here we are almost immediately with a new Vangough album – what did prog fans do to get so lucky at the very beginning of the year? “Warpaint” is Vangough's fifth full-length album (not counting an acoustic EP and live album) and looking back, this is the first time someone other than our former writer Proressivity_In_All has reviewed anything from the Oklahoma prog band!

Based on all the 4 and 4.5 scores, it's clear he was a Vangough uber-fan, but a switch in reviewers isn't going to buck the trend of positive reviews, because I'm also going to wax poetic about the awesome heights this album reaches. “Warpaint” is immediately attention-grabbing from the first seconds of “Morphine” with a mysterious bass line and intertwining guitar melodies. When the vocals come out, there's a strong emotion behind the clean singing going from a smooth croon on lines like “tell me all your deepest fears” to a dirtier, grittier sound with “bury all this seething hate.”

Shifting gears repeatedly during individual songs is what “Warpaint” is all about, leap frogging back and forth between styles while being held together by the vocal work. You'll hear transitions like humming over blast beats (a crazy juxtaposition all its own) changing to a sudden NHOWBM guitar solo on “The Suffering.” The opening to “Till Nothing's Left” gives off a grunge sound, which suddenly veers in a very Toolian direction at the two minute mark. “Gravity” meanwhile opens with a style akin the 2002 era of a certain Swedish band that used to be the king of progressive death metal and then morphs into an acoustic tune.

The back half of the album is a little less heavy than the first, with the slow moving “Knell” and lengthier 11 minute closing track “Black Rabbit.” Overall the balance is spot-on, however, and my only real complaint here is that there are segments that feel like harsh vocals might fit better than cleans. Overlooking that issue, “Warpaint” will easily be in the contender for best prog metal album of the year.

Highs: This is pretty much anything you'd ever want from a prog metal album

Lows: Some harsh vocals would have been welcome over the heavier parts

Bottom line: Its only February and we already have a prog metal album of the year contender!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)