Oakland, California-based heavy metal outfit Vannon recently released their new album, Desert of Our Dreams, a psychedelic reiteration of the Book of Exodus, via Big Round Music.
Speaking to the album, the band says, “We began like the virus. Our first steps from one body to another in the cold winds of autumn, moving between sleepers. Our old band was suddenly dead, taken by fate to wherever young bands rot, and we were hungry for something new. We whipped out some new songs, repurposed some old ones, took a few pictures on a gray day, and reentered our lair to demo what we had. Then the world stopped. The landslide of biological inevitability took our hopes, our bald-faced crying at the sky, our tiny trajectories, and pulled out their mutual rugs of relevance. As horsemen of the apocalypse rode in, we made a record, knowing it might be a final document of our time on earth. And so we hammered and honed, climbed and fell, twisted in imagined winds, and invoked a presence that lashed us to a beast of wrath. So it emerged, our weird symphony of end-time living, mixed sharp and hallucinogenic, undulating and folding in on itself while exploding outward. Now it’s yours.”
Made up of Max Hodes (lead vocals, guitar), Sven Pazarek (bass, keyboards, vocals), Nick Willbrand (bass), and Hans Lawson (drums), Vannon was put together by Max and Sven in 2019. The recent addition of bassist Nick Willbrand enlarged and intensified the band’s sound, which blends elements of prog-rock, doom metal, synthwave, noise music, krautrock, and old-school death metal into potent sonic potions.
Encompassing eight tracks, from a subjective standpoint, highlights on the album include “Call up a Storm,” serving as a tempestuous prelude. “Two Snakes” rolls out on blistering waves of metal guitars riding Jovian percussion as piercing vocals infuse the lyrics with vicious energy. A synth-filled breakdown shifts the tempo, flowing into a searing guitar solo followed by a thick wall-of-sound rife with surging roiling guitars.
“Above the Stars” opens on drifting prog-rock colors and then segues to growling muscular guitars topped by melodic vocals. Descending to gleaming streams of platinum guitars, the tune mellows, only to once again escalate to dense layers of guitars accompanied by incandescent synths.
“Took Off Running” travels on Cappella-like vocals rippling with country gospel tangs. When the heavy, grinding guitars enter, the tune assumes hymn-like textures. While “Cold July” ebbs and rises from smoldering washes of symphonic metal to the full-bore thrum and brawn of death metal.
The final track, “I Come to Destroy” begins on emerging dark colors of frigid edginess, followed by drifting lysergic groundswells. Clotted black guitars imbue the harmonics with viscous, gliding doom metal textures.
Titanically powerful yet broken up by delicate, elegant interludes, with Desert of Our Dreams, Vannon produces a grand prize of an album.