In Vain [ES] - IV
Fighter Records
Power/thrash metal
10 songs (40' 6")
Release year: 2017
Reviewed by Andy

In September 2017, In Vain (the Spanish thrash/power metal band, not the prog death band from Norway) released their fourth album, IV to little initial comment outside their homeland. It's rather odd to see a new album named with such a low number by an independent-labeled (at least initially) band that appears to be unknown outside of Spain. Perhaps their new relationship with Fighter Records, which is re-releasing it this year, will give them some new exposure. In Vain is no songwriting powerhouse, but the musicians are strong and tightly aligned, and they've got a few genuinely good songs on IV.

The music, a blend of thrashy aggression with Euro-power melody, reminds me a lot of the splendid but now-long-gone Seventh Avenue, though minus the melodic brilliance of that band. Daniel Blanco Martín sings in a rough but clean voice, sounding consistently gruff but upbeat, but he has trouble singing on-key. The true strength of the band lies in the technical ability of the guitar duo. Shredding that is almost neoclassical is used by the lead, backed by the perfectly-in-sync thrashing riffs of the rhythm guitar. The power metal influence is often the least satisfying part of the band's sound, because In Vain isn't particularly great at writing melodic songs and has an impaired vocal delivery; the Artillery-style A New Beginning or Assembled for War, where most of the lyrics are semi-shouted, is a better fit for them.

That doesn't mean they don't succeed at times on the power metal side, especially towards the end of the album. In Vain, a heroic charge into battle to the sound of a speedily-picked lead, is a winner here, and Martín sounds a lot more focused here than on earlier tracks. The following track, Through Our Veins, is also good -- did they write these around the same time? You can still hear Martín missing his key left and right here, mostly due to the difference in the vocal melody with the chords used, but somehow it's easier on the ear than on other tracks, perhaps because the chorus on this song doesn't require long held notes.

A flawed product that nonetheless has a few decent songs, IV is probably not going to end up on anyone's best-of-the-year list, but the band's obviously putting some effort in. Fans of Teutonic thrash/power hybrids would be the most appreciative of it.

Killing Songs :
In Vain, Through Our Veins
Andy quoted 68 / 100
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