Panic Theory by Vacant Skies
Vacant Skies debut album, Panic Theory, is an eclectic show of skill from a quartet of musicians from Flagstaff, Arizona.
This young band has an interesting problem, and it's definitely not lack of talent. The guitar chops are there. The tight rhythm section directing the groove into the deepest part of your skull, it's there. Emotionally charged lyrics from a singer and frontman who capture your attention immediately? Oh, it's there in full force!
The only issue with this record is: direction. As you dive into the 12 tracks on Panic Theory, you are struck by the sense that this is a band of many identities and influences. That makes for an interesting and sometimes perplexing listen.
The opening track, and album's namesake, is a supreme example of this quirkiness. What starts as a fun prog skate punk instrumental somehow midway through switches to a smooth lounge jazz guitar solo, then back again. Both are done well, you can't argue that fact, it sounds great. However, it leaves you puzzling as to why. Further on in the album is a fun little metal influenced punk tune that shifts into a reggae/ska type vibe to finish it out. Once again, both are done really well but the choice seems odd. These choices continue to pop up here and there, hinting at a band that refuses to show restraint in pursuit of sound.
I realize you're reading this thinking "oh man he dislikes this record". WRONG! There's a lot to love here. The guitars rip! Just check The Wake Up Call or Don't Breathe. The drumming and bass groove on all tracks is phenomenal! Vocalist, Larry Reynolds, can go from a lounge act croon to full out screamo that would be welcome on any Atreyu or Silverstein album! And I mean that as a fan of both of those bands.
There is tons of talent in this group of musicians, and I'm really looking forward to seeing them grow and find their true direction should they decide to pick just one. I can imagine this band doing albums in varying styles and genres throughout their hopefully long career and doing a stellar job at each. I just sort of wish this one didn't have them all on the same record. A minor complaint for a band that's going places, and is certain to wow a lot of people in the process. It's easy to see how anyone could find a favorite track on this record regardless of their particular favorite niche (mine's Beg to Stay).
Go show these guys some love and let them know what songs are your favorites!
Album out now on Allegedly Records, who seem to be releasing a lot of exciting young bands. Probably wouldn't hurt to give them a follow as well!
Uncle Damon is the Review Chief for Beyond the Pit, Co-founder and President of Bypolar Records, and a founder of the Scene to Shining Scene co-op. Enthusiastic supporter of artistic endeavors and spreader of chaotic good wherever he goes.
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