Clay Withrow is a very talented guy. He is the mastermind behind the band Vangough. He also filled in for Daniel Gildenlöw in Pain of Salvation in 2014 while Gildenlöw was battling Necreotising Fasciitis. Vangough is back with “Warpaint” and WHAT AN ALBUM! I’ve really liked the last two Vangough studio albums, “Between the Madness” and “Kingdom of Ruin,” but I always felt like someone as talented as Withrow was capable of more.
“Warpaint” is the album that I was hoping for and then some. It starts out with one of heaviest riffs Vangough has ever done on “Morphine.” But it’s not only heavy as fuck but also melodic and quite rhythmic at the same time. Withrow has a great voice and also a memorable one. On “Morphine,” he even breaks out an awesome death growl at one point. It all works.
“Dust” is next and it completes a perfect 1-2 punch with “Morphine.” Both SHOULD be on rock radio all of the world! The key is that each track on “Warpaint” has its own identity right down to each riff being instantly identifiable with the song it’s in. This also means that regardless of how long a song is, you don’t even realize it! “Morphine” is over 7 minutes and that still shocks me because I could listen to more of that song. “The Suffering” is 8 minutes and does a TON of stuff in that 8 minutes and never feels like it’s even half that long.
Another riff that I think is amazing is the main riff on “Till Nothing’s Left.” It’s one of those hummable riffs yet still heavy enough. “Knell” is SOMEWHAT of the mellow track on the album and I like that “Warpaint” never gets too mellow. I found the flow on those previous albums to not always be as consistent as I’d like, while the flow and sequence on “Warpaint” is spot on.
The closing track “Black Rabbit” concerned me based on the overall “rabbit kingdom” concept on part of “Kingdom of Ruin.” This song however never feels trite like the previous concept songs did. I don’t mind a concept so long as it never gets too melodramatic or silly. “Black Rabbit” is not like the previous “rabbit” songs. Plus Travis Smith makes him look badass on the cover of the album!
Musically the band sound at their peak. The rhythm section of Kyle Haws on drums and
Jeren Martin on bass are VERY underrated and tend to get overshadowed by Withrow. But these guys nail every single note and sound awesome. To top it all off, the album was mastered by the great Jens Bogren so yes it sounds amazing too. “Warpaint” will be on my best of 2017 year end list, without question. It is the album that SHOULD put Vangough in the big leagues. It’s that good.
3. The Suffering
5. Till Nothing’s Left
7. Black Rabbit