Crest Vain City Chronicles

The Crest’s newest record suffers from the same problem that plagued debut Letters From Fire — it’s rather dull. The "heavier, more guitar-based side” promised in the promotional hype is buried under a smooth, flat expanse of sameness. Visually, and in titles like "My War” or "New Profound Fear,” Vain City Chronicles suggests a darkness that just can’t be heard in the music itself. Sure, it’s soothing (if you’re ready for a nap), but it lacks any provoking sense of depth or intensity. Vocalist Nell (now also fronting Theatre of Tragedy) harmonises with herself beautifully, and she offers a performance here that’s technically fine but it doesn’t exude a great deal of character. She’s not alone in that either — the rest of the band also fail to deliver anything truly memorable. There are redeeming moments, some interesting synth bits, for example, but Vain City Chronicles just doesn’t make enough impact. (Season of Mist)