Vital Signs – Smoke And Mirrors



A new band but with a potent pedigree and experience bred in the Pennsylvania music scene amongst its members, Vital Signs make an immediate strong and attention grabbing impression with debut EP Smoke And Mirrors. Consisting of five tracks which skilfully croon and roar with a passion and adventure you can only form a healthy appetite for, the release shows there is some vibrant fresh blood stirring within the melodic metalcore scene. It is does not exactly breach the existing boundaries of the genre or startle with something imposingly new yet has an enterprise and tenacity to its songs which demands enjoyment and keen interest in their growth.

Formed in 2014, Vital Signs consists of Alex Runk (ex-An Early Ending), guitarists Alex Bolton (ex-Ace Augustine/ I Am History) and Bryan Merriman, bassist Frankie Donaldson and drummer Patrick Sherman (ex-I Am History). As mentioned it is a line-up rich with experience and it shows in the songwriting and simply mature nature of their first EP and indeed opening song Sound of the End. Its initial melodic atmosphere comes with an immediate drama which builds as the intensity and weight of the song increases. It all leads to a seconds pause before an eruption of fiery riffs aligns to crusading rhythms and a great steely bass sound for a potent enclosing of ears and senses subsequently lit further by the instantly engaging clean vocals. These are courted by a raw growl behind them which steps forward more forcibly as hostile antagonism from the guitars begins standing toe to toe and united with acidic grooves and anthemic persuasion. It is a seriously rousing stomp which is as carnivorous in tone and intent as it is seductive, a tempest of ideation and craft swirling around the listener with viciousness and inventive charm.

The outstanding start is backed powerfully by the EP’s first single Dear Death. The technical qualities of sound and band take the lead as the song bustles with a busy energy before finding occasional relaxation in a just as spicy and intriguing scenery of melody coloured sound. Though for personal tastes it does not quite match up to its predecessor, the track shows all the attributes and imagination which invigorates every song on the release. It is catchy and belligerent in equal measure musically and vocally, offering a web of spite and warm tones from where the attention stealing clean vocals are as gripping as the constant twisting of the track’s musical landscape.

A short piano led instrumental simply called Interlude comes next, though its emotive and finely crafted presence feels as if it is in the wrong place and suffers from an already hungry appetite only wanting more of the ravaging already devoured. That comes with The Chosen which employs similar melodic coaxing from the previous piece within its tempestuous and again furiously magnetic proposal. Essences of bands like Bring Me The Horizon and Miss May I make suggestions but similarly there already feels like there is a twist in the tail of Vital Signs’ sound which promises greater variety pushed adventures ahead. The song continues to bloom with vocal and keys spawned beauty against a staggered tirade of Meshuggah seeded tempestuousness, a blend continuing into the furnace intensity of the EP’s closing title track. For every searing guitar driven intrusion of the senses and swipe of rhythmic malice, there is a radiant melodic licking or vocal harmony caressing the wounds. It embroils ears and thoughts in a final raging and masterful storm ensuring sound and release lingers well after its departure.

A slight lack of originality against the crowd shows there is room to hone and explore their sound more, as well as at times a similarity certainly on the surface between songs. Also at times there is less potency in the raw growls compared to the continually impressive clean delivery, but to be honest these are minor thoughts right now in a rather enjoyable and promising first roar from Vital Signs.

The Smoke and Mirrors EP is available now via Imminence Records @

RingMaster 28/01/2015

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Categories: EP, Music

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