Kingdom of Ruin is an epic journey down the rabbit hole.
The opening track “Disloyal” begins with a music box and the haunting voice of Clay Withrow singing softly and a falsetto voice doubling it in the background. “Reach inside my open chest, feel around there’s nothing left,” and then Wham! you are hit with a wall of chunky, thick rhythm guitars, chest pounding bass and a plethora of double kick drum rolls.
There is nothing better than lightning fast synchronized guitar and bass runs and Vangough deliver.
If this were the way the rest of the album went it would be a great album, but it’s so much better. About a third of the way through the song they pull the foundation right out from under song. They start playing ethereal, spatial material. The guitar lays down some really outside, dissonant lines. After some whammy bar dives they head into a big finish with big melodic vocals and harmonies. The song ends with a bit of eerie keyboard and some scream-o type moaning.
The rest of the album gets more diverse as it moves along, from the deep drop tuned guitars in “Choke Faint Drown,” to the amazing keyboards at the beginning “Abandon Me”. “Drained” has its double bass drum rolls and bendy guitar riffs. There is acoustic guitar sprinkled all throughout this album.
All of these tracks build up to “Kingdom of Ruin”. This is where the album diverges from the straight and narrow path of progressive rock and starts throwing in some more interesting elements: piano, scream-o, guitar harmonics tricks and acoustic guitar solos. “The Transformation” has pizzicato strings and cello. “The Rabbit Kingdom” has an almost classical feel.
“Stay” starts out with acoustic guitar and then weaves between a ballad and a classic rock track with an intense bluesy solo at the end that finishes with a nice Rhodes piano sound. “Sounds of Wonder” has just a hint of jazz that reminds me a little of Pat Metheny.
I think my favorite track on the album is “A Father’s Love” which is a beautiful piano ballad. Heart felt lyrics and gut wrenching vocals make this one a must listen.
The pace is picked up again with “Requiem for a Fallen King” and then to “An Empire Shattered” which reminds me of bands like Queen, Supertramp and Yes. Things slow down again with another piano ballad, “Alice”.
The album ends with “The Garden Time Forgot”. I can’t place it in a genre, it’s like someone took the best music of the last 3 decades, and a few pan flutes and threw them into a blender and poured out this last song. You could really say that of this whole album. You can tell Vangough loves music.
Vangough are: Clay Withrow - vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards Brandon Lopez - drums Corey Mast - keyboards Jeren Martin – bass
Key Tracks: Abandon Me, Alice, A Father’s Love
November 18, 2010