[Music] It's a long way to the top if you want to rock & roll in dark, poppy fashion. For Vancouver's Vincent Black Shadow, the lengthy journey out of obscurity began with the band assessing its talents in relation to popular acts My Chemical Romance and The Used—groups who employed the type of dramatic theatrics VBS infuses in their own eclectic sound.
The female-fronted act lived largely in the shadows even after releasing their debut, Fear's In the Water (2006), but with the new El Monstruo its members make a strong case for audiences to wake up to a hard-riffed blend of punk, metal, jazz and classical-fueled compositions—songs that help them stand out in the eyeliner-obsessed demographic.
The album has received widespread critical acclaim from print and television outlets, coverage that’s well-deserved (though it doesn’t hurt that lead singer Cassandra Ford resembles Christina Ricci, either).
Ford sings in a style comparable to Gwen Stefani’s fierce pipes during No Doubt’s heyday. Fun, confident and completely catchy, her voice lifts songs like “Fear’s In the Water, “Broken,” and “Control,” to complement melodic guitars and keyboards. Those songs, however, fall short of brilliant. El Monstruo’s track listing demonstrates the band’s marked improvement.
In 2008, VBS signed to Beef Records but distributed El Monstruo independently on their website, TVBSMusic.com. A bold move, yes—but it paid off.
El Monstruo takes the same formula that drove the group’s debut effort, but ups the volume and energy. Dramatic strings and heavy guitars appear on songs like “They Still Want You” and “Don’t Make Me So Mad,” giving the band a polished and mature sound.
The band deserves credit for going out on a limb and releasing it themselves. Currently, they act as managers, public relations specialists, promoters and, oh yeah, rock stars.
As for their live show, well we know they’ve learned from some of the best. The Vincent Black Shadow has toured with bands such as Joan Jett, Bif Naked and Snow Patrol. Now on their second headlining tour, the band takes its energetic show to Salt Lake City tonight at Kilby Court, 741 S. 330 West, KilbyCourt.com.