4 out of 5
Produced by: Jerry Finn
Vendetta Red did a crawl across a couple of indie albums, then made a mini splash on a major label, as produced by superstar guy Jerry Finn. While this debut had catchy singles for radio play that made it fitting for the then-zeitgeist of emo and punk money-makers, I don’t know a single person who wasn’t also pretty shocked by Zach Davidson’s throat-shredding snarl kicking in as opener ‘There Only Is’ clicked past its head-bobby chorus and verse into its closing section of call-and-response screams. And throughout the album one finds some similarly surprising touches of noise and clever arrangements and some very un-radio brutal lyrics / imagery, with all of it being rather seamlessly strung together.
That album was mostly a reworking of one of their indie releases; followup EP Shatterday brings in one more song from that release, plus (I believe) an additional bonus track, and then three album cuts, all again produced by Finn.
The selection of album tracks bounce between pop (Shatterday), quiet-loud rock (Stay Home), and epic melodrama (Lipstick Tourniquets); all are quality songs, and would suffice as a mini-sampler of what the full disc offers. Adding in the other tracks helps to show what probably encouraged the major label signing, as well as how Finn surely helped to shape things a bit, and give the group / record the punch it needed to make its mark: Ribcage Menagerie and Lucid, Languid have a more pop-punk vibe that fits with Finn’s Blink-182 history, and a lot of the aforementioned emo stuff that was pretty popular at the time. However, Vendetta’s penchant for darker themes and willingness to alternate between arena-sized hooks and doom-y riffage makes for an interesting spin on pop-punk, sharpened to 2-3 minute perfection by their producer. Still, it’s understandable why these were left off: the group could be marketed as edgier sans the comparatively faster, moderately upbeat pace / tone of these other tracks, and so even on this small slice, there’s a clear divide between what was approved for their debut and what wasn’t.