Once again, Shadow Kingdom Records delivers the goods right to my doorstep. They’ve put out a handful of great releases this year, and I think the newest one by the band Vanik might be one of my favorites. Dark Season is their second effort, hitting the scene around Halloween of this year, which is very fitting since Vanik touch on subjects such as monsters and horror sent in an envelope of speed metal riffs and gritty vocals. The album arts doesn’t really make that too hard to predict before even hearing any of it.
There are two main approaches that they take with busting this out. The first is the more aggressive, almost Venom-oriented attack. All of the vocals are raspy and still contain some sense of melody, but there’s an angrier undertone to songs like “Thorazine.” Then there are some that depict a more fun approach, such as the following track “We Like To Be Frightened.” The cool thing about his one is that it’s more driven by rock n roll roots but still has a punchier delivery.
Regardless of the path taken, there’s one incredible quality that reigns over every track, and that is the superb solos. The lead guitarist is very talented with good timing in introducing absolute shredding while maintaining a good sense of melody and staying with the rhythm. Occasionally, a slower song will make an appearance, and even with these, the techniques are on point. The way that the guitar bridges and drum fills team up to maintain a spooky aura is also worth mentioning, as there aren’t many dull moments.
The formula here may be a pretty simple one, but what matters is how it’s executed, which is damn near perfect. Even though the lyrics can get pretty silly (see the short banger “Werewolf”), it’s still amusing and leads into something promising. Those in need of a nice dose of roughly produced but orderly speed metal should look no further. Picture this as your favorite haunted house thrill ride brought into the form of a heavy metal album. Fans of Venom, Enforcer, Speedclaw, and the likes would dig Vanik.
Dark Season was released on October 26th, 2018 through Shadow Kingdom Records. CDs can be ordered from their website and can be bought digitally or streamed via Bandcamp. It is also available on cassette from Rapid Fire Records.