Sound — 6
Seattle cryptic rockers Vendetta Red released an album that is based on a cult, formed in Japan in 1700. The fact that impressed the band to make a record about "Brothers And Sisters Of The Red Death" (which is the original name of the cult) is that in November 1900 hundreds of Russians, that adopted the cult, immolated themselves in an act of purification before the coming apocalypse. As singer Zach Davidson explains, the album tells a story about a woman, named Gloria, who should be a prototype of modern feminists -- she blames all the faults of the world on men. Why? That's where you can feel Zach's fantasy vim -- poor Gloria was genetically transformed into a horrible Medusa after Nuclear Holocaust. Like following the classical plot of a movie about any monster creatures, she starts a gender revolution called the Sisters of the Red Death, and basically takes over of what's left of the world. Weird, huh? I'll tell you later where he caught all those ideas from. "Sisters Of The Red Death" is the firth album by Vendetta Red, the first one after their critically acclaimed 2003 "Between The Now And Never" and the second major-label record. The record is twelve tracks filled with bellowing choirs, large guitar chords, heavy drum beat and amazing fills and sometimes even hardcore aggression, spiced with manic energy. It took the band 2 years to write the songs, but the record turned out to be so inspiring and challenging that they finished the process in only a week. That could be even quicker as Davidson was so impatient to sing all the songs in one day. But the producer Howard Benson (who has worked with everyone from My Chemical Romance to Motorhead) saved Zach's voice from the blow-out and let him do only two songs a day, for which Zach is very thankful now. Since the last album, not only the band improved a lot, but also Davidson reviewed many of his musical tastes. As he claims, now screaming bored the shit out of him and sounds lame. That's obvious as "Sisters Of The Red Death" is a lot more melodically-driven. On the last record Vendetta Red is mature enough to eschew the typical production rulebook -- when it come to guitars, they put only two on each track to make it sound bigger without trying to layer as many sounds as possible. Some songs sound like punk-rock, but a bit heavier. Sometimes through the record, I had a feeling that music needs to be harder and tougher -- that's probably due to the band's "heavy" past. They use a lot of howling guitars and ? beat, which adds a gothic flavor to rock. Like "In Lieu Of Dead Brides" that has a wonderful bewitching versus, but awful chorus that doesn't go with the versus. It features the use of Theremin, an electronic instrument made famous on the Beach Boys' 1966 hit, "Good Vibrations." "Silhouette Serenade," which is the first single, is my favorite. It starts with violins, playing the main melody and being caught up heavily by all other instruments in a moment. That is the most harmoniously "put-together" song on the album and also radio-friendly -- a perfect chose for a single. I enjoyed the instrumental piece in "Run," though the whole track sounds like parts of different songs being put together. The cheesiest part is the quiet chorus with chorals. Don't have a clue what it's doing in there. The record finishes with Zach's bone-chilling hysterical screamo, that is more like a bird's croak, than a sound, uttered by a human.
Lyrics — 8
I remember when we had English lessons in school, my teacher's favorite words was: "Now, kids, make up a dialog. Not less then 10 sentences." The boys that happened to study in my class enjoyed making stories about murders, raping, violence and stuff. After a couple of their dialogs, the task changed to "Now, kids, make up a dialog. Not less then 10 sentences. Dialogs with words -- to rape, sex, drugs and such are not acceptable." Zach is lucky he didn't study in my school. I guess he wouldn't pass the test. His passion for fantasy, horror and fiction books since the childhood (remember my promise?) defined the sort of lyrical approach for the band. Songs, each presenting a different chapter, are about drugs, humanity, afterlife, fulfilled by horrifying vivid literary images. The band doesn't care too much about the rhythm in lyrics, putting a little effort only in choruses and paying much more attention to story-telling in versus. That makes each song like a little movie, playing in your head. It would take you some effort to understand the lyrics, if English is not your native language as Zach doesn't bother to pronounce most the words right. That adds some mystery to the songs and, talking about the "Russian influence" on the record -- he wonderfully pronounces "r" in Russian manner -- rolling his tongue. That should be a new fashion among rock-stars! Davidson can effortlessly go from falsetto to a blood-curdling scream. As Zach says himself, now he pays much more attention to music, being onstage, except of impressing audience by his performance, cutting himself.
Overall Impression — 8
For those, who believe the music should make the world better -- that's not your case. You'll enjoy the album if you like "spicy" music about horrific detailed gore to scratch your nerves. The band plays very optimistic music and sings about empty noses, bleeding hearts and other scary things, like in "Coital Improv," where Zach sings about terrorism and bombs in a sugary sweet whisper voice and with an obvious smile on his face. The CD sleeve is wonderfully performed -- not only each song is called a chapter and the cover pictures Medusa, I assume, from the Greek myths, but you can also unfold it and put on your wall as a little poster! Erm... kidding of course. Thought the sound and style of the band is still not polished, Vendetta Red definitely has great ambitions and weird imagination. The band's fantasy is what differs it from the "stamped bands" that stay pat with simple songs and proved lyrics about love.