A Past Unknown – Vainglory

By Lee Brown on September-22-2012 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : , , | Share

A Past Unknown – Vainglory
Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/54
4.6 (12 votes)

Artist: A Past Unknown
Album:  Vainglory
Label: Red Chord Records
Release Date:  Oct. 9, 2012
Reviewer: Lee Brown

Tracklisting: 

  1. Separation
  2. Cursed
  3. Purpose
  4. Fact or Fiction
  5. Worthless Offer
  6. Reason to Fear
  7. August
  8. Divided
  9. Unrest
  10. The Search
  11. The Seeker
  12. Motives
  13. Cured

If you’ve picked up an album by any “metalcore” band in the past five or so years, you know before you even press play what to expect. Ever since Underoath, Emery, and As I Lay Dying (among others) started taking the heavy music world by storm, there has been something of a predictable pacing to the genre which features the occasional double bass drum, a heavy singer, a clean vocalist, and plenty of old-school chugging along the way. The newest release from A Past Unknown is no exception to this rule. However, in a scene filled with hundreds of bands that sound “almost exactly like” August Burns Red or The Devil Wears Prada, A Past Unknown brings a passion and level of technical mastery that promises that the listener will continually find something fresh and inspiring, even if it doesn’t completely set them apart.

Vainglory starts with the aptly titled “Separation,” an acoustic or instru-metal track that serves to both set the atmosphere of the album and to showcase the musicianship of the band before breaking into the powerful screams of “Cursed.” “Cursed,” then, begins to unfold thematically what turns out to be a powerful journey through faith and trials, the pains of this world and the promise of the coming glory. Both vocally and musically, Vainglory is top-notch. While the album does little to separate itself from the “tried and true” sounds of its encompassing genre, it doesn’t need to, either. A Past Unknown brings to the table a mastery and precision that matches and sometimes even exceeds the best of what their peers have to offer.

It is in the passion and depth of the lyrics that A Past Unknown begins to set themselves apart. Like For Today and A Plea for Purging, A Past Unknown comes with a relentless heart that beats for the King in every aspect of their message.  From the opening notes of “Cursed” to the closing promises of “Cured” the Gospel message is preached in a way that brings the struggles of this life and the glories of the next into disheveled harmony with one another.

Along this journey, Vainglory provides plenty of powerhouse moments. “Fact or Fiction” tackles the deception of this world and the questions and doubts every believer has to face in this life. As the world proclaims “There’s nothing more than what we see,” the listener is challenged to hold boldly to a reasonable faith in the King who both exists in this world and yet is also transcendent beyond it. (Updated Oct. 1, 2012) – And how could I have neglected to mention that Ryan Kirby from Fit for a King is the guest vocalist on this track? Shame on me. Ryan brings his usual passion and power to “Fact or Fiction” that certainly ups the ante and should make us all salivate for another FFAK album.

This theme is immediately carried into “Worthless offer,” which boldly proclaims that this world’s offer of riches and glory is nothing compared to the joy of being in the presence of Christ eternally (and NOW!). “This won’t be my end, I have just begun to know what it means to live… There is more than what this world will tell us to live for.” These words flow with a passion that is matched by the heavy guitars and pounding drums. “I will never die” becomes the battle cry of the song, encapsulating a theme which has been prominent in recent releases such as For Today’s Immortal and War of Ages Return to Life.

In terms of raw musicianship and bleeding-heart passion, however, it is the song “August” that shows what sets A Past Unknown out from the crowd. “August” is both brutal and beautiful all at the same time. While it never produces a soundscape that would earn it the title “pretty,” it does beautifully transcend from the brutal to the sublime and back again with ease. Starting out fast and heavy, the song moves through its moments of serenity with almost celestial harp-esque moments before it slams skillfully back again into gut-wrenching brutality. Anyone wishing to sample what the band has to offer must start here.

Where “August” ends with the proclamation “You are God, forever reign;” “Divided” takes a look at the Body of Christ in division. Taking Jesus’ words to His disciples that “This is how they will know that you are My disciples, that you love one another,” the track points to the sorrowful division in Christianity and challenges the Church to get back to the business of loving. “They will see the difference, they will see love.”

As the final track, “Cured” perfectly brings together the musical and thematic threads weaving through Vainglory. Just as the title suggests, the cure is offered through a passionate spoken word presentation that walks the listener through a modified version of the Romans road. The final words of the album are a Gospel presentation that point the listener back to the exact cure this world needs.

Overall: Vainglory is a powerful and passionate exploration of the eternal plight of mankind. While it doesn’t break new ground musically, the level of artistry A Past Unknown brings to the table is undeniable. Fans of harder music will find an album that is a great balance of brutality and serenity, deserving a serious listen. But, it is the bold and faithful message of the album that will keep you coming back for more and discovering new depth with each subsequent play.

RIYL: Underoath, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, For Today, The Devil Wears Prada

A Past Unknown - Vainglory, 4.6 out of 5 based on 12 ratings

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About the author Lee Brown

Lee Brown is Discipleship Pastor at Meadow Park Church in Columbus, OH. He is the author of "Here's How: An Introduction to Practical Discipleship," and is also an adjunct professor and content specialist for Mid-America Christian University. Most importantly, he is a loving husband and father. Lee loves jamming to bands like Blindside, Project 86, Demon Hunter, Spoken, Lecrae, and Lil' Dre. For more about Lee, be sure to visit www.KnightoftheSon.com. View all posts by Lee Brown

32 Responses to 'A Past Unknown – Vainglory'

  1. Alex says:

    I can’t wait for this album, I really hope it catapults these guys. The first single is awesome, excited to hear more!

  2. Dan says:

    Finally a RCR album I can say I really like!

    • Bryce says:

      These guys and Phinehas are the only two Red Cord bands I’m really into. I think they’re headed in the right direction, though.

    • Derek O. says:

      Joliet’s album was really good too. Their track “on Thursday we leave for home” is amazing.

    • ParkerloveJesus says:

      I still can’t get in to any of the RCR bands. I liked Phinehas’ album but I saw them live and honestly they were a huge dissapointment. The lead guitar and the rhythm track were off and wow did it sound bad. IDK just not digging the music/bands that RCR has on their label. That might just be me though.

  3. Cool, but duz anybody rememba the band “ded unknown” from a few years ago? They wer prety gud, lol.

  4. Iaya97 says:

    Not into this genre, but I really enjoy their song off the sampler.

  5. Jake C says:

    How’s the production? Because the last album had the worst production I’ve ever heard. I felt like the songs on that album were so amazing, but the production absolutely blew. I really liked “Cursed” though and am very excited for this album :)

    • Derek O. says:

      It is much better. They went to a different studio and grant really worked on improving his vocals. They are raw and in your face. The quality you get in the single “cursed” translates throughout the rest of the album.

    • David says:

      Jake- They recorded at RandomAwesome, which is Josh Schroeder of Besieged. Josh recorded the newest Plea album, the Burial, Those Who Fear, Battlecross, the Browning etc. Lots of good stuff has come from there.

    • Jake C says:

      So glad they got a new producer for this album. Whoever did “To Those Perishing” really destroyed that album.

  6. ParkerloveJesus says:

    Listening to the new song cursed and it’s terribly un-inspiring. So sick of the metalcore genre. Everything sounds the same. Do artist even try to push the envelope any more or do they just listen to other bands and take their music? The choreographed movements in the video made me lol too.

    • Shawn says:

      I listened to “cursed” and think even for metalcore, they have a very unique sound. The vocals are way more passionate than any band doing this in metalcore right now and I like that a lot. Anxious to hear what the rest sounds like.

    • ParkerloveJesus says:

      Not sure how much metalcore you listen to if you think this is unique. The lyrics are fine and very passionate and that’s great but the music itself is what bothers me. Just my opinion though :)

    • Shawn says:

      I’m always weary of metalcore bands because they all sound the same now like you said. One thing I did like about that song and I do think is different is there was no synth and you can tell the instruments aren’t processed, it sounds real. The singing isn’t all whiny like most bands and the screams are raw, I’m digging that. However, I do hope the rest of the album has some variety and not just constant chugs.

  7. Mike K says:

    I didn’t like “cursed” at all, so if the rest is similar I’d skip..

  8. Shane McKnight says:

    I have to agree with the ones that listened to “Cursed” and weren’t impressed. I watched the music video, the music was not terrible, but it didn’t stand out to me. Oh, that and when they all started crabcore head banging together, that’s always a musical shut down for me.

  9. metalhunter says:

    How long is the album? I see 13 songs, but are three or four of them short, dialogue songs? Or are there really 13 solid songs?

  10. Brandon J. says:

    Sorry everyone but this album just got pushed back till October 22nd.

    Iowa based Christian melodic metalcore outfit A Past Unknown has announced that their Red Cord Records sophomore effort, entitled Vainglory, will now be released on October 22nd. Vainglory comes after a highly successful debut in the form of To Those Perishing and was recorded by Josh Schroeder (For Today, Legend, A Plea For Purging). Between the two albums, the band has been extremely active on the road by touring with acts such as A Plea For Purging, Counterparts, and Shai Hulud. They have also shared the stage with Underoath, As I Lay Dying, Oh Sleeper, and The Chariot while also hitting the festival trail with stops at Cornerstone, Ichthlus, Lifest, Sonshinem and Southern Ontario Metal Festival.

    The thirteen track Vainglory features coverart created by Glenn Thomas (Memphis May Fire, Woe Is Me, Decoder), guest vocals by Fit For A King’s Ryan Kirby, and lead single ”Cursed.” The music video for “Cursed” has over a combined 67,000 views in one month from BryanStars’ and Red Cord Records’ YouTube channels. This is over double what the first single from their debut amassed in a year. The band does not plan to stop as they have a CD release tour confirmed for October with constant touring being planned throughout the fall and winter.

    VAINGLORY TOUR

    (With Colossus)

    October 5 Waterloo, IA

    October 6 Des Moines, IA

    October 7 Sioux City, IA

    October 8 Sioux Falls, SD

    October 9 Fargo, ND

    October 11 St. Cloud, MN

    October 12 Willmar, MN

    October 13 Mounds View, MN

    October 14 Marion, IA

    October 15 Plattesville, WI

    October 16 St, Louis, MO

    October 17 Richmond, IN

    October 18 Dearborn, MI

    October 19 Nazareth, PA

    October 20 Queens, NY

    October 21 Manchester, NH

    October 22 Boonton, NJ

    October 25 Wake Forest, NC

    October 26 Nashvillle, TN

  11. shawn says:

    If you all didn’t hear the song they released last night, you need to. It is , in my opinion, amazing

  12. Keith.Settles says:

    Emery?

  13. Brandon J. says:

    This album is now out, what do you all think? Does it live up to the hype?

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