Madison band Vanishing Kids celebrate a new album of searingly gloomy goth-rock. Info
Since they formed the band Vanishing Kids in 2000, vocalist/keyboard player Nikki Drohomyreky and guitarist Jason Hartman have made several moves back and forth between Madison and Portland, Oregon, gone through myriad lineup changes, and usually indulged a wild patchwork of sounds, drawing especially heavily from the realms of post-punk and metal. The excitement of albums like 2007's Skies In Your Eyes and 2013's Spirit Visions came from hearing the band splice together influences that spanned from The Cure to Voivod to Killing Joke to Slayer into warped but undeniably moving songs. But over the past five years, Vanishing Kids has begun to sound more focused on one sound, solidifying a new lineup with bassist Jerry Sofran and drummer Hart Alan Miller and writing new songs that mine a subtle vein of stately gloom. They play here to celebrate the 2018 release of the resulting album, Heavy Dreamer, with new member Sam Shinners (also of Ruin Dweller and Red Museum) joining on live keyboards.
This record is certainly the most cohesive thing the band has ever done—though the jump-cut eclecticism of its earlier records was captivating in its own way, there's a lot to be said for the patient, immersive sequence of these eight songs. On highlights like the title track, "Without A Sun," and "Reaper," Sofran's growling bass and Miller's lumbering drums draw on the heft of doom metal, while Drohomyreky's vocals gasp and yearn for high drama. Drohomyreky's synth sounds are more fine-tuned and delicately reverbed here than they have been on past releases, and Hartman's guitar playing balances dense low-end riffs with leads that spiral into ecstatic, ornate melodic overload. The band couldn't have picked a better title for Heavy Dreamer: This music has its feet in the sludge and its head in an unabashedly mystical, vulnerable zone. —Scott Gordon