In Vain - In death we trust 3.5/5

Reviewed: 6-1-12





Tracklist:

1. The skies are burning
2. War machine
3. Sons of truth
4. In death we trust
5. Into the abyss I
6. Ghost galley
7. Into the abyss II
8. Sun hunters
9. Through hell to paradise
10. Far from home


Hailing from Madrid, Spain, In Vain are an independent 5-piece power metal band with thrash influences. They are by no means a new name on the scene, but have been plugging away since 2005, with a pair of demos and a previous full-length CD (entitled ‘Of gods and men’) already under their bullet belts. The self-released ‘In death we trust’ marks their sophomore outing, and represents the efforts of a band that is ardently seeking to make the leap to broader exposure in the international metal community, if only the proper label backing can be found.

In Vain’s core sound is a style that’s near and dear to my heart. They don’t go the super-melodic Maidenish route favored by so many of their countrymen who travel in the footsteps of Tierra Santa, Saratoga and so on. Nor do they sing in Spanish, which likewise distinguishes them from most of their colleagues back home. That said, In Vain’s sound is rooted in classic metal, but dressed up with tougher speed influences. The bio cites Megadeth and early Helloween (circa ‘Walls of Jericho’), and both comparisons have merit. To drill down further, however, I would describe In Vain as sounding like a hybrid of their kinsmen Vhaldemar, the Italian melodic thrashers Alltheniko, and maybe a pinch of the Sencirow/Thunderblast style. So we’re talking power metal that’s significantly heavier than the norm, with a distinct thrashy edge. The guitars of the 2 Daniels (Daniel Cordon and Daniel B. Martin) are razor-sharp, speedy and melodic, sometimes borrowing from the Olbrich/Siepen school. Cordon’s vocals are a bit rough’n’raw, as he barks more than sings, but he has plenty of emotion and manages to maintain just enough tunefulness in his voice to pull it off. If the vocals from Death Angel (when Osegueda’s in his harsher register) and Alltheniko work for you, then you’ll be just fine with In Vain from a vocal standpoint.

After spending a great deal of time with ‘In death we trust’ on the trusty MP3 player, I am convinced that In Vain’s songs are almost uniformly better when they’re letting it fly at full speed. When the band are hammering away with reckless abandon on songs like “War machine” or “Into the abyss II”, they are pretty damned awesome to behold. When In Vain slow down and try to give their songs (not to mention drummer Teo Seoane, who had better eat his Wheaties if he wants to keep the pace on the high-velocity material) room to breathe, as on the epic “Through hell to paradise”, the results are not as effective. Fortunately, though, In Vain seem to realize this, as they tend to redline the tempos for much of this CD’s 42-minute duration. That said, there is one clear highlight. No matter how many times I hear ‘In death we trust’, the song that consistently stands out above all others is “Ghost galley”, which is something of an aberration because of its pirate lyrical themes, the obvious high-speed Running Wild influences in the melodies, and the superb interplay between the understated melodic pre-chorus and the explosive chorus. (Fittingly, the booklet states after this song, “Dedicated to Captain Kaparek. Welcome back!” I only wish Cpt. Kasparek had written anything as killer as “Ghost galley” for the ‘Shadowmaker’ comeback.)

What we’re left with is a fun, fast-paced aggressive power metal CD by a group of Spaniards who wear their hearts and their influences on their sleeves. Sure, the songwriting could be tightened up in places, and those infernal teclados (keyboards) are way too loud in the mix at times, blunting the power and diminishing the heaviness of the music. (Partly that’s my anti-keyboard bias creeping through, but partly it’s a glaring fact that these keyboards are overpoweringly loud in places and are often used in a way that detracts from the thrashy feel of the music. For example, why on earth is there a lengthy, buzz-killing keyboard solo in the ripping balls-out speed metal attack of “War machine”?) But for an independently released CD, ‘In death we trust’ is an enjoyable romp through a genre that seems all too often to be overlooked these days. Definitely worth a look, especially for genre fans.



KIT




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