By Paul Ewins
Preceded by a slew of singles and EPs over the past couple of years, VANT’s DUMB BLOOD comprises the best songs from the previous releases; as well as a number of previously unreleased tracks. Having seen them at T in the Park last summer and thinking they were pretty good, I was keen for this release.
As with all of VANT’s releases, the song titles are all written IN BLOCK CAPITALS (because they’re angry, obviously). The album is written with a clear political slant – which should be encouraged considering all the fucking insanity that’s going on there. However, the political nature of the album feels very contrived. It’s all very “I did higher modern studies, don’tcha know” – the band say they are from Planet Earth as they “don’t believe in borders”.
Anyway, on with discussing the music, man. The album follows the same kinda vibe throughout with songs starting quite soft before jumping into a fairly obvious shouty chorus. However, that’s not to say the songs aren’t good. There is actually some really interesting stuff going on throughout the album. The drums are excellent throughout, add into that some nice wee guitar licks and the tracks are not half bad. And despite the songs generally following the same structure, it’s clear there are a lot of different influences at play throughout. The song TIME & MONEY has a much more Kings of Leon/Indie-hillbilly rock (not fucking Mumford and Sons, mind) vibe to it than a track like PARKING LOT, which sounds like a mixture of pre-AM Arctic Monkeys and Royal Blood.
The record rips through like this throughout until right before the end with the swaggering seven-minute-long behemoth ARE WE FREE?. Built around a simple drum groove and bass riff while the two guitars fight for attention, the song keeps building up as an instrumental for longer than most of the other songs on the album, and the first chorus doesn’t start until over four minutes in. The fact that this song was allowed to grow into such a monster really shows that VANT do have pretty great capabilities when it comes to jamming songs.
As an album it is good. The songs are good, on the whole. The playing is clearly very passionate and punk rawk. But the production lets the album down. The songs all sound very clean, removing any edgy vibes that should be present on an album so political and revelling in adolescence. Despite some good songs and interesting ideas, the album falls short of where it should really be. However, they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves, so what do I know?