Sorry, but I've always kind of dug the name, VAMPIRE MOOOSE, while one colleague dubbed it "one of the worst names ever." So I'm weird. Though I recall seeing a couple of live performances, I can't say I listened intently or ever checked out the self-titled debut. So we'll call "Serenade the Samurai" my first formal experience with the St. Louis act, and it turned out to be a pleasant one.
Anchored by the impressive drumming of Eric Baudendistel, there is something about the band's rhythms that stick to the ribs and make you want to continue listening. What sounds like a studio effect on Ryan Pulliam's death metal-esque vocals, as well as a fat 'n' bassy bottom gives the album some character. Flashes of CANDIRIA mixed with an almost thrashy (at times) and sometimes DILLINGER-like arrangements (though hardly to the same level of complexity) make songs like the up-tempo "Ogdru Juhad", "Portauni", and "1.21 Gigawatts" meaty, bouncy, and heavy as hell. Though the group stays clear of guitar histrionics, Brandon Manlove expertly introduces nuance by incorporating airy chords with the chunky, almost funky riffs ("Pujols" and the title track) and occasional minor chord bit ("Monstersgotamotherfuckingbomb") in an effective manner. A tribal-esque drum piece ("Sumatra"), a punk-rock-meets-CANDIRIA tune called "Adrian's Song", and the dark and jazzed up groove of instrumental "Estaban was Eaten" round out an entertaining album.
VAMPIRE MOOOSE is definitely on to something with "Serenade the Samurai". It is difficult to put a finger on it, but you can bet it has a lot to do with those muscular rhythms and a vague sense of quirkiness. It is a fun and interesting listen to be sure.