Joy Reviewz -- The Vincent Black Shadow

Hey everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done a music review, right?

Yes, yes indeed it has. The first and last music review I did was on The Scarlet Ending, and while music may not exactly be my area of expertise I had a blast writing the article, since music is very much something I love.

Now, over the past couple years I’ve been spending the majority of my time in an establishment with a continuously looping soundtrack that doesn’t change. How anyone is capable of surviving this is beyond me, but it quickly became apparent that earbuds were soon to be my best friend. This experience has vastly improved my appreciation of music.

You see, you can fill your head with the stuff you’d rather be listening to, and that assuages the pain of having to listen to Michael Jackson and Ace of Base on the radio. But the thing is, back in those dark days, I only really had so much music I listened to. Once you've played out the ten or so bands you know, a few hundred times, they quickly become just as intolerable as the tripe I’d been avoiding.

This lead to a musical renaissance for me, a time where I was forced to adapt or die. I had to find new music that I enjoyed, a lot of it, and fast. This lead to a lot of experimentation, and lead to me exposing myself to a ton of new artists.

Among the new bands that I found during that Dark Age was a fairly unknown group known as The Vincent Black Shadow, named after the motorcycle of the same name.

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The Genre!: A standard glance at Wikipedia tells me that the group is ‘Alt Rock’ which is… well, frustrating. The term ‘alt’ means nearly nothing, since it just means “y’know, it’s a li’l different” without actually saying how.

However, my own efforts to describe the group’s distinct style meet with equal futility. They manage to be dark, yet upbeat — but upbeat without being particularly cheery. On a scale of hardness, they are… firm? While they have a catchy and intense sound that you can tap your foot (or in my case, bob your head) to, they don’t have the ‘noisy’ aspect of metal, nor do they have the consistent speed of punk, or the gloomy pace of gothic music, which puts them in a strange gray area.

On top of that, they have no specific gimmicks (such as trumpet) to auto-slap a new genre into the mix, yet lyrically they deal with some very dark topics such as trauma, surgery, insanity, and possibly rape (depending on your interpretation of the song “Surgery”).

So, when all is said and done, and I’ve attacked this from every angle my limited pool of knowledge allows, I come to… well, alt rock.

The Voice!: My favorite part about this band is its lead singer, originally Cassandra Ford (more on this later). She has a power that is not too frequently seen in female rock vocalists, along with being outright competent. She hits all the notes she can be expected to, is vocally fluid without doing that annoying wiggly thing, and is even able to hold her own with non-lyrical sounds (moans and whatnot — not entirely sure how to describe that; once again, my musical knowledge is limited at best and I speak the words of a simpleton).

Though, with their latest album, Cassie Ford decided to take a hike and work on something else. As a result, the band’s keyboardist, Nikki Hurst, took one for the team and stepped up to the plate.

We haven’t gotten to see a lot from Nikki yet (currently, only a single EP features her voice), but reception has been mixed, as are my own feelings on her. On one hand, I have to give her props — she stepped into a very long shadow by filling Ford’s role in the band, and she does not have the forceful presence of the band’s last vocalist. However, her voice does have… personality, and has been described as “downright funky”. My only real complaint about her is that her voice doesn’t always manage to stand out against the backing music.

The Verdict!: I enjoy the hell out of the band, honestly, and while not every song is a hit I really enjoy listening to them. The roster-change was an unneeded burp in the works but now that I have adjusted, I don’t think it really harmed the band. They’re dark, yet catchy, lighter than some more hardcore stuff but in no way fluffy, and songs bring their own individual melodies to get caught and tumble around in your head. I recommend them — so be more like me, and do things I do, since I am cool!

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Recommended Listening!:

Metro (Cassie Ford)

In A Row (Cassie Ford)

El Monstruo (Cassie Ford)

Surgery (Cassie Ford)

Stupid Intruders (Cassie Ford)

The House of Tasteful Men (Cassie Ford)

Head In A Box (Cassie Ford)

Watch Out! (Nikki Hurst)

Welcome Home (Nikki Hurst)

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For more of my reviews and non-comic-related articles and blogs, come visit me over at Chronicles of a Stoic Maniac, and maybe I'll give you a cookie!

...Maybe.

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