Thanks to Vanishing Life’s varied collective CV, ‘Surveillance’ has more promise attached to it than your average debut LP. Yet to use the word supergroup would do this band an injustice. Comprising members of Quicksand, Bad Religion, Rise Against and a catalyst in the shape of Autry Fulbright II (…And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead), ‘Surveillance’ has to be good to satisfy the desires of a wider fan base.
Formed in the muddy fields of Belgium during 2014’s Groezrock festival, Vanishing Life rapidly progressed from conversation to fully formed band. ‘Surveillance’ is the culmination of two years hard work squashed between heavy schedules. But, for all of this, none of these songs sound rushed. Vanishing Life are characterised by driving riffs that seem cool, calm and calculated. Album opener ‘Realist’ sets the pace for a release that has both feet planted firmly in the guitar driven rock scene. There is nothing too intricate or flashy, and with tracks like ‘Seven Pointed Star’ and single ‘Thinking Is Weightless’, the band push on at a steady pace, driving forward to the eventual crescendo that is ‘Big Other’.
Vocally, Quicksand’s Walter Schreifels is not spectacular by any stretch, with cries of “oh yeah” punctuating several of these songs in true middle of the road rock style. If the riff heavy guitars are the centrepiece of this album, Schreifels vocals are the frilly doily on which it stands. They serve a purpose, adding drive and purpose, but are little more than perfunctory.
Unfortunately, perfunctory seems to be the word that will align itself most with ‘Surveillance’. The riffs on offer are good but Vanishing Life fail to serve up the elusive ear worm needed to cement their place in the scene. ‘Surveillance’ is sure to be of interest to fans of the artists involved, but it shouldn’t stop us from expecting more.
‘Surveillance’ by Vanishing Life is released on December 4th on Dine Alone Records.
Words by Jay Harrison (@Just_Jay_89)