When I was searching the internet for new progressive rock bands I suddenly came across the Dutch band The Vault. To me this band from the city of Ridderkerk came out of nowhere. And there is nothing strange about that. The Vault worked a couple of years in silence on their debut album and released it more or less out of the blue.
The first time I listened to the album Chapter I: The Glass Tides, I was really surprised by the professional approach. Their instrumental skills were great, vocals were perfect and also the mixing of the album was mint in my opinion. I immediately got the feeling that this band had made an excellent album.
My first acquaintance with the album was on Spotify. After listening to it for the first time, one thing was clear to me: I'd like to have this album in my collection. Especially because of the fact that it's a Dutch progressive rock band. I have the odd property that I am a collector of this particular genre.
When I started searching on the internet for the album, I unfortunately couldn't find it anywhere. So I decided to contact the band. They replied that a hardcopy on CD wasn't available, but they were preparing the pressing of a limited amount. Further on I got the information that during the writing process they wrote so many tracks that part II of the project was also ready for use. The part II will be released at the end of 2020. For me this was enough to offer them a review for Background Magazine. And here we are. Sometimes things run the other way around and the reviewer offers to write a review.
The Vault was founded after the high school band The Deep, in which Niels van Kessel and Ernst-Jan Buijs were playing together, broke up. Together they started working on a new concept. The result is their new band The Vault. The line-up is following: Niels van Kessel (guitars, bass, keys, recording and mixing), Ernst-Jan Buijs (drums) and Mark Stevens (vocals).
Further on the biography of this band says that The Glass Tides is telling us a post-apocalyptic story. As in a good story they are trying to let us discover a new world. The story contains plots, twists, drama and tension. The Vault are inspired by bands as Coheed & Cambria, Muse, The Dear Hunter and Mew. Interesting about this is the fact that all of these bands are more or less indie rock bands and have slight common grounds with the progressive rock genre. In advance I can tell you that The Vault has much more in common with progressive rock that named bands. Much more about this issue you will find in the explicit album review below.
The album opens with the track Prologue Whispers. A clock starts ticking and whispers are coming in. Dark strings and guitar riffs build up the tension for some sort of scary soundscape. At the end dark vocals perfect this track. The atmosphere reminds me of Muse, in their early days. They also had intros which built up an enormous amount of tension.
The album continues with The Journey. The atmosphere of this track is once more rather dark and even contains the “smell” of tragic. The track is low tempo and lingers on. A rather clean guitar forms the quiet base of this song. The chorus has more power. I like the variety of tempos and atmospheres in this song.
One of the sentences in the lyric that touched me is: “blood fills the hourglass with each day that you waste”. It's a sentence that also reflects on the atmosphere of the music.
White Raven starts heavy and with a little aggression. After a while it turned out that this intro is the instrumental performance of the chorus. The concept of this song is the same as the previous song, quiet-, dark atmospheres alternate with heavy parts. In this track my first impression of the vocals were confirmed. The Vault made a great decision to bring Mark Stevens aboard. Mark has a great voice and a great range. His voice fits perfectly in the atmosphere of their music.
Reflections is a nice intermezzo which contains some killing guitar strumming patterns. I really like this kind of intermezzos. They can break musical flows that you are in.
Glass Tides is a song that opens quite melodic. The atmosphere is quiet and the chorus is phenomenal. This is so melodic and has such great chord progressions that it could be a song of Muse. And that is a compliment!
The harmonic vocals that open Blood Moon, are rather surprising. I didn't see that coming. The rest of the song is mid-tempo. Rhythm section and guitar parts are really tight. Together they create some flow in this track. Once more the vocals are having the “main role”. These vocals complete this song and gives it its character.
Part Ways opens with a musical box, which lingers on in the first part of the song. We all know a band who did this trick also and who even called the song The Musical Box. But I can assure you that this is a complete coincidence. Both songs have no further parallels.
This track is once more a mid-tempo track. A lot of the bridges in the song a heavily played and remind me of Muse again. Muse has the quality to pull the listener in some sort of flow, The Vault succeeds also in pulling you in a flow.
Embrace opens with a lot a tension. The tension is created by clean guitar parts and some dark keyboard strings. This lingers on for quite a moment, but doesn't bore me at all.
And of course this track contains the more heavy parts. That all said, piano sounds start playing, Mark starts singing his last parts and the great album has reached its end.
My journey to this album was really phenomenal. It was a pleasant trip with a lot of highlights. In general you can say that The Vault makes music with a link to Muse. The album is mainly guitar oriented. Keyboards don't have a prominent role on the album. So if you like the more melodic keyboard oriented progressive rock, I think you can pass this album. But when your horizon is wider and if you like bands such as Muse, than you should give this album a try.
I think that the vocals of Mark Stevens are enormously important for this album. The album has a constant dark atmosphere, which without vocals could be a little boring. The vocals break the atmosphere and gives it the tension that is needed in songs.
As I said this is the debut album of The Vault. I think they have done a good job. The whole package is professional and these guys know exactly what they are doing. Personally there are two items that I miss on the album, prominent keyboard parts and guitar solos. As I said before keyboards don't play an eminent role on the album. I think that tracks can get more variation by giving them more keyboard parts. This also applies to guitar solos. When tracks have guitar solos this also creates more variation. Besides the variation, both can bring some extra tension in songs. But this is a personal note and this is how I feel music.
The Vault succeeded in releasing an excellent- and mature debut album. These guys are completely aware of what they doing. I've listened to the album several times and I start to like the album more and more. It's a rough diamond. But already a diamond of the high carat category.
This brings me to the rating of this album. Everyone reading the complete review can guess what is coming, Glass Tides (Chapter One) has collect the full house: 5 points out of 5. Well done guys and let me know when part two will be released.
***** Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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