Released: 2006, Rebellion Records
VainGlory is fronted by a beautiful female vocalist whose powerful vocals puts to shame those of many male metal vocalists. Don't let her looks fool you, this lady has pipes that will tear your head off! And no, I don't mean in a cookie monster way. They are melodic, but full of power and sound VERY metal! When searching for a vocal similarity for vocalist Kate French, you're best off looking to someone like Mike Howe of Metal Church then to any random cookie cutter Helloween clone. Musically, the band are what most usually call powerful power metal (emphasis on the powerful part!). That means no flutes, harpsichords, or hobbits...just aggressive and speedy heavy metal with virtuoso guitar playing.
I have not heard VainGlory's debut from nearly SIX(!) years ago called 2050. Oddly, this new album is the band's second and for all intents and purposes should be considered their first. Along with the vocals, the other stand out factor of VainGlory is lead guitarist Corbin King. His lead playing is influenced by the neo-classical shred school. Of course, we cannot mention that style without reference to one of the founders of the style, Yngwie Malmsteen. Clearly, Yngwie made an impression on Corbin. Even though the rhythms sound thick and not far removed from other modern power metallers, the lead tone has that single coil Strat pick-up sound that you hear from Yngwie. I'm not sure if that's what recorded with, but the sound is a reference point. At times Corbin uses a wah pedal, not over the top, but uses it effectively. And even though this is irrelevant to the review, I gotta comment on Corbin's look...at first glance with his Dean guitar, long curly hair and goatee you'd swear it was Dimebag Darryl (RIP)! The song “Midnight Hellfire” starts out with a groovy riff that could have been off a later era Pantera album, so the look is not without it's musical connection in the band. For the most part though, the music is double kicking and fast, not groovy. The other groover on the album is “Blackened Soul” - not a stand-out track for me as I prefer the speed! One of the stand outs for me is “Face of Death” which has a catchy vocal melody over some near thrash-metal riffage. Most of the album is speedy stuff, things only first slow down by the album's sixth track, “Undying Love”. It begins with clean guitar and lead guitar before Kate's vocals come in. She is not belting it out over the mellower parts of the song, and she sounds more, shall we say, 'normal'. She sounds much more impressive when she's giving it her all. The song switches back and forth between the slow and heavy/speedy sections. For shred heads, we have the track “Decapitation Attack”. It starts out sounding super fast with tremolo picked riffing and insane ripping guitars. This instrumental really showcases the lead playing of Corbin. The guy is a shred machine, awesome! Although I love shred guitar, I don't like mindless noodling and Corbin's playing sounds anything but mindless. This is melodic and there are parts that are very memorable, not just wanking.
Fans of aggressive heavy power metal (Primal Fear, Jag Panzer, etc.) and of killer lead guitar playing (Yngwie, Joe Stump, etc.) should check out VainGlory. When I first heard the band name, I thought of Edguy's 'Vain Glory Opera'...and that is the only similarity as the two bands share very little common ground. For those interested in hearing more of Kate French, she is also the singer in Chastain. For shred heads, Corbin has also released stuff on his own and with other bands (check http://www.corbinking.com
). I just hope that VainGlory gets heard by those into the aforementioned styles and bands as they have as much (if not more) to offer as any of the current leaders of the style.
Band's Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/vainglorymetal