Vandals- The Abbey

Our spotlight on new vinyl releases listens to new metal from The Abbey and a 25th anniversary pressing of a great Vandals album.

The Abbey - Word of Sin - (Season of Mist)

This five-piece from Finland is described as a progressive doom metal band and their sound incorporates metal, hard rock, symphonic rock, prog rock and melodic rock, all with dark overtones and subject matter, and all that makes for a very intriguing listen. Helmed by singers Natalie Koskinen and Jesse Heikkinen, The Abbey show all their cards on cuts like "Starless" which features ethereal vocals from Koskinen and a menacing guitar groove from Heikkinen and lead guitarist Janne Markus. Markus also plays a brief jazz-tinged outro on the cut while "Desert Temple" gallops along to a classic metal riff until a mid-song break where Markus shows off some intricate playing as the song slows down for a bit; when the pace picks back up there is guitar shredding and melodic picking as well. The vocals are mostly chant-sung on the fast and furious "A Thousand Dead Witches" which has somewhat cryptic lyrics but the listener will understand "A thousand dead witches come flying to you" and the guitar part that sounds like a witch screaming as she's burned at the stake. "Widow's Will" features clear and up front vocals from Heikkinen delivered in a manner that owes something to great prog rockers the Moody Blues, and with stinging guitar and a sludgy tempo "Queen of Pain" is perhaps the doom-iest cut on the album. Word of Sin ends with the epic 12-minute "Old Ones" where the mood and lyrics conjure something akin to a final reckoning between good and evil. In another nod to prog rock, the cut features a fascinating mid-song organ solo from Heikkinen, a Gothic interlude that heightens the song's mystery. With excellent musicianship throughout, rounded out by bass man Henri Arvola and drummer Vesa Ranta, The Abbey create a mesmerizing listen all through Word of Sin. This 2-LP set is packaged in a beautiful gatefold sleeve with scary artwork the listener will want to stare at; a lyric sheet is included too. For added fidelity the discs spin at 45-RPM.

Vandals - Hitler Bad, Vandals Good - (Nitro/Craft Recordings)

Originally released on Nitro Records in 1998, Hitler Bad, Vandals Good, here rereleased through reissue specialists Craft Recordings, was the band's seventh album overall. The Orange County outfit has gone through numerous lineup changes over the years; here the band consists of Dave Quackenbush on vocals, Joe Escalante on bass, Warren Fitzgerald on guitar and keyboards and Josh Freese on drums. If there's one thing that Vandals are known for it is for being fun, and this classic album is loaded with it. Who, I wonder, might fans be thinking of as they sing along to "People That Are Going to Hell," or "My Girlfriend's Dead" where Quackenbush sings about a guy who fibs and tells people his girlfriend has passed on when she's simply broken up with him. Written by Fitzgerald, the reason given for the girl's death is sometimes bulimia and sometime leukemia. At song's end the lying fellow, fed up with people asking about the woman, is ready to "jump off a building and join her in heaven." All the lyrics throughout, similarly funny and quirky, come lightning-fast to keep up with the punk band's speedy music, but they can all be understood and sing-alongs will be frequent. "Money's Not an Issue" is amusing in a couple of ways; firstly the guys throw in some vocals that channel the '50s doo wop era and secondly, as it comes out at the end of the song, the reason money is no issue is because "I found 20 bucks!" Vandals have always been hip to pop sounds too and on "Come out Fighting" the song's chorus is hooky and radio ready and reminds of the Clash. You wouldn't expect a punk band to cover a show tune but Vandals close the record with a punked-up version of the Rodgers & Hammerstein chestnut from "The Sound of Music," "So Long, Farewell." As the album title indicates, Vandals good! Pressed on blue and white spatter vinyl and with an included lyric sheet.

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