New Vegas - More Than Mythology
Record Label: None
Release Date: May 24, 2013
Coming back with a new album just one year after their first effort Overseer, Pittsburgh’s New Vegas are back and making it abundantly clear that they mean business. While Overseer was a fantastic debut, it was pretty clear that it was the band’s first venture into the music world. There was a great idea that was very well executed, but it didn’t feel like there was too much ambition behind it. Now, just a short time later, New Vegas is already showing signs of progress with More Than Mythology, a well-rounded yet diverse sound spread out over 9 tracks.
The biggest and best change from Overseer to More Than Mythology is the amount of thought that went into every second of this album. It’s clear that this was not created by messing around on a guitar and waiting for something to stick. These songs are the ones that need to wait until inspiration strikes before they are created. From the sound of it, New Vegas has taken this inspiration and worked out every angle behind the songwriting to make each one just about as good as they could make it.
There’s a really impressive mix of styles on this album. The band gets their influence from a wide range of bands throughout different subgenres of hardcore music, and each one shows itself both on its own and mixed in with others. What’s great about that is the band doesn’t take a crescendo that Caspian would’ve written and put it next to a mosh part from a Touche Amore song. Instead, they tone down both styles and integrate them together. There can be an all-out hardcore attack complete with heavy screaming vocals, but right after there will be a slow and ambient guitar part slowly building up, and the whole time it will be clear that this is New Vegas trying to create something fresh and and not just take what other bands are doing and try to throw it together.
Another strong point lies in the production. More Than Mythology comes off as more fine tuned and precise, not to mention the guitar tones are damn near perfect. There’s always the right one to match whatever’s going on, whether it be a slow, reverb-laced buildup, a crunchy guitar break, or full, thick chords at the top of a crescendo. On top of the well-written instrumentals, the ethereal sounds that can be heard often on this album almost create a landscape that is really easy to lose yourself in (see the bridge of “Watered Down, All Around”). Then you have the heavier riffs like the bridge of “Ensnared,” which sounds like it came straight off of the most recent Thrice record.
Despite all this, at the end, it still feels like there’s something missing. The problem is that New Vegas have a sound that puts just as strong a focus on the vocals just as much as it does on the instrumental, if not a stronger one. Unfortunately, this is where the band comes up short. The clean vocals seem to explore a wider range than was heard on Overseer and technically they can be appreciated, but they simply fall flat as far as catchiness and melodic flow (save for one track, “Les Enfantes Terribles”). Not to mention the screaming vocals don’t seem to be used to their full potential. This album could definitely use some moments where heavy vocals are layered over soft and ambient passages, which were successfully implemented on Overseer, but not so much here. I’d go so far as to say that this album could be more effective as an instrumental album rather than what it is.
All in all, however, this album is definitely a success and a good mark of progress for New Vegas. It shows that the band has just about all the resources they need to create the album that affirms their unique identity, but they simply have to figure out how to cohesively meld all those resources together for that to happen.