At 12 songs, most clocking in at six minutes or longer, moments of Oklahoma City trio Vangough’s third full-length album are overlong, overwrought and occasionally disjointed from start to end.
That said, the pair of cojones Vangough shows through tackling this big, theatrical album worthy of Spinal Tap is praiseworthy in its own right, and the sheer volume of musical precision dealt liberally through this obstacle course of mayhem is flat-out awe-inspiring.
A lot is happening here; much like a master’s course in head-banging, the album touches on all things metal and all the offshoots thereof.
There’s the Bullet for My Valentine guitar riff as blared through a church organ in opener “Afterfall” and the off-kilter time signatures of The Mars Volta with “Alone” and “Schizophrenia,” and “Vaudeville Nation” feels like a knowing nod to Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”
It pushes outward, too, and adeptly so. The plucky bass lines of “Separation” recall Primus or even Rush, while “Infestation” boasts an emotional tug à la Blue October and the title track’s rich instrumentation plays like a B-side from Incubus’ Morning View.
And when all those influences are drawn together instead of apart, as they are in “Thy Flesh Consumed,” the results are pretty spectacular.
It’s hard to fault a band for such sprawling ambitions, and Between the Madness marks Vangough’s most enjoyable and well-executed rock opera to date.
Between the Madness is available now via Amazon. — Joshua Boydston