After a short delay, Vanguard finally dropped their debut EP ‘Rage of Deliverance’ yesterday on 6th November. On this release, the Texan quartet plays some seriously heavy hardcore while simultaneously taking a stand for veganism and social justice over all. If you ever needed a heavy vegan band that channels your anger about human hypocrisy and cruelty or if you are just a sucker for great hardcore, Vanguard might be a perfect fit for you.
Uncompromising Hardcore with a Strong Message
‘Rage Of Deliverance’ spans over six songs and is only a couple seconds short of 19 minutes. It begins with a narrator referencing Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’ and perfectly sets the tone for the rest of this record.
The narration emphasises our lack and need of empathy for other species and highlights how non-human animals suffer the same as us: ‘I discovered that when we suffer, we suffer as equals and in their capacity to suffer, a dog is a pig, is a bear, is a boy’. With this, the instrumentals kick off and you are instantly absorbed into this EP. Because of the great immersion and strong atmosphere, the instrumentation on this track seems all the more heavy and the message conveyed by the lyrics hits even harder.
The point that the band wants to get across with this song is ‘That no being is deserving of this suffering’. We subject other animals to immense suffering for our own benefit despite having the means to not do so any more. That makes our abuse of other species even more cruel, since it is just unnecessary at this point. Our lack of empathy and inaction perpetuates their suffering. This is a theme of several of the band’s songs and a great introduction to this record.
‘Defeatist’ is a fast hardcore track, in which mid tempo beats and slower sections with breakdowns take turns with each other. It elaborates on the themes in the opening track but varies more in its pace. The changes of pace make this a perfect live track and make you crave to go to shows again.
The third song ‘Detach’ was already released as a single but it is still fun to this day. ‘Detach’ starts slowly with a melodic intro, which is followed by a beat hitting like a sack of bricks. Again, heaviness is coupled with nice, hard hitting tempo changes that make this song feel even heavier. This track revolves around the exploitation of non-human animals by humans and serves as an appeal to detach from this system and mindset of cruelty: ‘Detach from humanity’s inhuman nature, a culture built upon the backs of other creatures’. These lines are perfect for singalongs and ‘Detach’ is another perfect song for a live setting, as it has everything that a great hardcore track needs.
‘Living Grave’ adds some melodic elements to the heavy hardcore formula and has some nice tempo changes in it. This one kicks off as a fast HC tune before slowing things down gradually and turning heavier. As in its precursor, there are some great singalong passages, which make this song all the more melodic but heavy nonetheless. Lyrically, it illustrates the perversity of animal-based products. If you eat animals, you stuff yourself with the pieces of corpses and become a ‘living grave’ and ‘turn your fucking stomach into a tomb’. Animals are not objects or ‘just products’ to be consumed but living things that are exploited and killed for human consumption and this track deconstructs the euphemisms surrounding ‘animal products’ in a great way.
The chorus in ‘Under No Pretext’ reminds me a little of Stick To Your Guns. This is another fast-paced, heavy-hitting hardcore song with even more melodic elements than the preceding songs. This matches its politically-charged lyrics perfectly, as the band promotes unity of the left and speaks up for the fight against fascism. Despite this being a really important and serious topic, the tone of this song is positive and the chorus is really melodic and upbeat. On a sidenote: that Marx reference in the title adds a layer of depth that lacks in the music of most hardcore bands.
What sets off as a slow song with panicky riffs, accelerates into mid tempo, only to slow down again and hit harder. ‘Ascendant’ is yet another dynamic track with melodic elements and Vanguard pull it off. Apart from that, it is a great animal liberation hymn, in which the band expresses their activism: ‘Smash every cage, cut every fucking fence’.
The record closes as it began, with narration: ‘Justice must be blind to race, colour, religion or species. If she is not blind, she will be weapon of terror’. This is a great message and Vanguard highlight that veganism is a logical extension and part of social justice. That being said, end racism, sexism, speciesism and bigotry of any form!
Conclusion and Rating
‘Rage of Deliverance’ is a great, hard-hitting hardcore EP that maintains its heaviness despite its melodic elements. Due to the dynamics and the narration in some of the tracks, the songs do not seem samey or blunt, which makes this stand out from the masses of less inspired hardcore bands.
On top of that, the lyrical content is more in-depth than that of most bands, as Vanguard explore the nuances of veganism and give it a great representation in the process. Their message is uncompromising and packaged in heavy music that complements it nicely and that makes for a great combination.
This is at least a 9/10 for me. Musically and lyrically, this record is on point and honestly, the only qualms I have with it are that it is not an LP and that it makes me want to see the band live very badly. If you are a fan of heavier hardcore, definitely check out this EP, especially if you are itching for a great vegan band outside of youth crews. That being said, go vegan!
As always, thanks for reading
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