Review: “II: The Heretic” by Vanguardian

A concept record in which the protagonist fights to fix his mistakes but ends up completing a self fulfilling prophecy, “The Heretic” is a tale from Finnish Metal act Vanguardian that questions for grandiose delusions of humanity. Wanting to honour the Old School recordings of the the bands they listened to when they grew up, the band recorded the EP in a fully analog session incorporating those methods that were used in some of the most iconic records ever made. Produced by Anssi Kippo (known especially for his work with Children of Bodom) and Sakari Soisalo, that represented a leap to the unknown with Astia studio in Lappeenranta being the place that those sessions took place…

The quartet waste no time in giving us bass lines that sound like guitar riffs on “Back To stone Age“, a cut that has flavours of the kind of Groove Metal that Pantera and Pissing Razors were famed for. An intricate solo lights the way as vocalist Martinmäki laments the lack of an eye for an eye mentality in the present time and the overall quality can not be questioned as it sounds refreshed and revitalised in the fullness of time. “The Collider” follows suit, offering hints at the ethnic in the riff department and solo that feels like lightening in a bottle. Almost tribal fills in a soft and mournful center lack a little bit of the the killer instinct of the opening cut, but the false ending is perfectly weighted. A solemn introduction brings “Pantheon” to mournful life before the acoustic guitars take hold and the screams are replaced by harsh whispers for the opening verse. Rising to normality for the chorus which finds Martinmäki giving us some surprisingly strained screams, the decision to do a cut that has both acoustic and electric parts seems a little dated but still works for the most part, the sick poly rhythmic groove moments saving it from a fate worse than death before the face melting almost flamenco guitar solo. Fortunately after the experiment the band return to the style choices that made the first pairing of cuts such vicious little ditties for title track “The Heretic“. Crossing the swords of punishing Groove Metal with hints of the Avant-Garde the band hold onto a dark atmosphere for dear life over the course of the seven and a half minutes with a couple of moments of gravelly tones of Martinmäki in which you actually want him to scream out “A new level, Of confidence, And power, Demanding plea for unity between us all, United stand“. Instead the band bejewel their sound with some synths to give this one a little bit of an ethereal touch in the final throes and it goes down a storm [7.5/10]

Track Listing

  1. Back To stone Age
  2. The Collider
  3. Pantheon
  4. The Heretic

II: The Heretic” by Vanguardian is out now digitally over at bandcamp with vinyl editions set for 13th January 2023 via Inverse Records.

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