Written by: Michael Stegner
Over the past few months, Syracuse based psychedelic rock band Vaporeyes shifted their focus away from shows and festivals and began doubling down on their writing and recording process. The quartet has plans to release their new album on November 13, 2020.
Having recently scrapped nearly 8 years’ worth of music from their online catalog, Vaporeyes hit the reset button on their band in 2019 when their current lineup was formed.
The eight-track project titled Cantrips is the second album from Vaporeyes to be released within the past 2 years. A band’s Sophomore album is quite possibly the most important project of their career. It acts as a statement of not only where the band is headed, but it tells listeners whether or not the artist’s sound is evolving.
In the case of Vaporeyes, their new album’s sound is more distinct, confident, and professional than their already impressive self-titled album Vaporeyes.
Aside from a few quarantine streams on their Facebook page, the band hasn’t played to an audience in quite a while. With no source of money coming into the band’s bank account, Vaporeyes had to get creative in order to record all of the songs that they had already written.
The album was funded by a Kickstarter campaign on their social media channels and has an underlying theme of magic and mysticism throughout the whole thing. This theme can be largely credited to the band’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign which inspired the album’s lyrics and music. (I mean come on…. Who doesn’t love the idea of 4 D&D nerds throwing down some awesome tunes in between quests!)
At times touching on the wonderfully chaotic elements of psychedelia, the entire album flows very smoothly and naturally between shredding solos and chilled out grooves. A constant dreamy undertone remains throughout the whole album and creates a soundscape that put me in a very pleasant headspace from the get-go.
A heavy-hitting stand-out from the album is the third track, Fungus Drudge. Broken up into three separate “sections”, the general tone of the song changes multiple times during its seven-and-a-half-minute playtime. Its powerful guitar chords lay the foundation for singer and keyboardist Jonas Reddy-Nicholson to show off his chilling vocals.
Guitarist Pat Tierney’s skills are impossible to miss throughout the entire album as well. He seems to not only play the right notes at the right time but refrains from overstating his presence musically. The notes that do not get played are often as important as the ones that do.
As the album picks up with the fourth track Donye Wump, I am reminded of the bouncing basslines from Shannon Zory that stood out to me immediately when I first listened to Vaporeyes. The groove is strong with this bassist, as this song clearly shows.
And then there is Sean Cadley. The pulse of the music. The beat machine that keeps the rhythm pumping and your toes tapping. His beats, while subtle at first, are tight and clean. They provide the backdrop for his bandmates to work their musical magic around.
So what’s my final takeaway? Vaporeyes has outdone themselves with their album Cantrips. They are taking risks that are resulting in a new and unique sound. There is no specific genre that they fall into, as they touch on everything from dance and jam to metal and funk. I know some people don’t like to compare one band to another, but if I had to sum up the “Vaporeyes sound”, it would be somewhere in between Lotus, Umphrey’s McGee, Primus, and Radiohead. Did that spark your interest? Take a listen on November 13 and hear for yourself!