On a dark, cold night in Boston, Massachusetts, Vanna was born. He opened his wide eyes to what seemed like the endless opportunity of a world and immersed himself into the musically bound lifestyle he had dreamt of. Soon, he was faced with the reality of watching himself slowly deteriorate; dying inside from the superficiality and repetitiveness of his life. With no place to turn and no one to guide him, he realized he had no choice but to give up the fight and let himself go with only the hope that he would be given a second chance. A second chance at life not to repeat the same mistakes he had previously made.
Life, death, rebirth and afterlife - the concept behind Vanna’s new album. And They Came Baring Bones is the band’s perspective on the current state of the music industry, and specifically the metal genre, as told through the eyes of a single man. With this concept in mind, Vanna entered the studio with producer Matt Goldman (Underoath, The Chariot) and spent the next month living and breathing the elements of what would become And They Came Baring Bones. “We went in with maybe six song skeletons, a bunch of riffs, and a ton of ideas,” said vocalist Davey Muise. “The skeletons soon morphed into a full record, with the help of Goldman.” The collaborative environment was created by living in Goldman’s studio throughout the recording process. “It felt as if instead of making a record, we were living a record,” Muise summarized. With no time restrictions, the band worked with Goldman through daybreak, allowing the producer to bring out the raw emotions necessary to create the album as conceptualized.
After Muise began having a recurring dream, the overall theme and concept of the album came to fruition. “We grew up in the hardcore scene of New England where we had a place to go and feel welcome,” bassist Shawn Marquis explained. “We feel that sense of unity is getting lost, and we want our fans to expect more out of music and the bands they go see.” Vanna sets out to bring that feeling of community back to the metal scene with And They Came Baring Bones. Musically, the album was inspired by bands such as Norma Jean and Converge. “Those bands play thought provoking music and the fans are responding,” said Muise. “We respect them a lot and you can definitely hear that on the new record.” Frustrated with everything, with the industry, with each other, with themselves, the band needed to recognize the light ahead of them and to be reminded why they do what they love and the importance of their music. “I think that on this record, no one held back,” Muise said. Marquis agreed, saying, “On this album we finally got to be as raw as we wanted to be. We wanted it to be as energetic and live as our shows, and this is the closest we have ever gotten.”
And They Came Baring Bones opens with the thrashy “Black Bones,” which brings the album to life and depicts the innocent newborn’s entrance to the unknown world. A lack of humility will lead to the destruction of the soul if the blurry line between confidence and cockiness is not recognized. A naïve, headstrong attitude with no sense of true direction is often the recipe for “setting yourself up for disaster,” explains Muise. The song introduces the raw emotion of the album, expressed no better than in the repeated passionate scream from Muise at the end of track – “I am the end – you won’t survive me.”
Death is the outcome of not progressing, of staying stuck in a comfort zone and not learning to move forward. “History On Repeat” conveys the inability to recognize ones same mistakes and thus the inability to escape death. “It’s when everything comes to a halt and you wonder if you can continue going on as things are,” explains Muise. The track ends as abruptly as death itself ends life.
The melodic and lyrically heavy “Scarlet Shroud” introduces the peace that ensues once death has taken over. As you die and leave your current life path, the progression begins. Nothing expresses this more than when Muise emotionally screams, “Please forgive this face for goodness sakes, what else could I do, this is my fate, if finding death is happiness, well then my friend wish me the best.”
The instrumental interlude “Passages” begins the transition to rebirth. “We’ve gone through hell and back and now this is who we’ve become,” explained Marquis. “We may have had some doubts and lost a little faith but we’re becoming alive again and we’re here to destroy,” reiterates Muise.
Vanna recruited Matt Lanners from The Greenery to share vocals on the “Careless Men Lead Careless Lives,” which lyrically speaks to the fact that everyone is accountable for what they do and should therefore be aware of the messages they are sending. The song is a warning to what not to be as musicians, explaining to not emulate what you despise in others.
The album concludes with “Eyes Like The Tide” in the afterlife stage. Vanna asserts who they are, what they want and accomplishes sharing their message. “It’s a declaration of ‘yes, we have a new life and we’re doing something with it.’ The fans are breathing life back into us, giving us their heart and soul, and keeping us alive,” explained Muise. The final track, “White Light” embodies the future for the band. It shows them expanding and exposing fans to new ideas. “White Light goes back to the fans – this in your hands now, you are what saves us,” summarized Muise.
Vanna opened his wide eyes to what was now the endless opportunity of a world now understood and immersed himself into the musically bound lifestyle he had dreamt of. He watched himself fall apart and learned to pick up the pieces, slowly building himself back together. After going through hell and back, Vanna was given the gift of a new life. A second chance…