Vitne is the stage moniker of Jo Kimbrell, who is a singer, guitarist and songwriter hailing from Oslo in Norway. He has released a lot of music through his involvement in different musical projects, including the band Golden Palace. It was in 2013 that he launched his solo career as Vitne, teaming up with German guitarist Julian Angel, whose skills feature on this EP. He released his debut solo album, Neon, in late 2013 to critical acclaim.
This six track EP, Endless Blue, is the perfect showcase for Vitne’s various talents and broad musical range. The tracks differ in style, but essentially you would describe his music as a combination of glam rock artists/bands like Billy Idol and Kiss with the more modern sound ofvpunk rock bands like Sum 41 and Goldfinger. There is also a sophistication to both the music and lyrics that you get with progressive rock and a certain theatricality; it’s no surprise to learn that Vitne is also an actor.
The EP starts with the sound of rolling thunder on Rain Of Hope, a one minute instrumental comprising just guitar, setting the tone nicely for what follows. The title track comes next, and the contrast to the intro could not be greater. It begins with a pounding stadium/punk rock drum beat courtesy of Matthew Sean Reynolds, before a Sum 41-style lead guitar riff grabs the attention. After a short verse we soon hit the anthemic chorus, sung with fire and passion: “Just one more try and I will fight..sit staring deeply through the still of night, digging deep, trying to find you, never ending, searching for you endlessly in this endless blue…”.
After a middle eight section that maintains the colossal energy, it breaks into an exciting guitar solo before one last blast through the chorus. A fabulous, uplifting song and an obvious choice as a single. This is immediately contrasted by Himitsu, Village of the Sea, which is a gentle folk acoustic ballad introduced with some gorgeous flute (played by Vitne). It’s about realizing how much you appreciate somewhere once you’ve left that place and contains some lovely vocal harmonies. A track that shows Vitne’s songwriting craft.
This is then followed by Serenity, a four minute acoustic instrumental track. It is beautifully simple, a picked acoustic guitar melding with a haunting, poignant melody also played on the acoustic. This melody is then eventually taken over by flute, which works very effectively.Vitne says the inspiration for this track “came from role playing games like Chrono Cross”, which just goes to show that artistic inspiration can come from all manner of sources.
Fifth track Misery is a return to the anthemic rock of the title track, this one not as fast and builds more gradually. Starting with just vocal and chugging acoustic, the electric guitars are not introduced till the second verse, which heightens their impact. It features an intimate and heartfelt vocal performance from Vitne as he depicts a struggling relationship in the lyrics: “I already know that it’s over..so try my best not to make believe, I feel alright though I’m not sober, I’m drowning in this misery…. “.
Final song The Ocean is an interesting song to end the EP, another romantically themed track that incorporates the metaphor of the (endless blue) ocean as symbolic of the vastness of life’s emotional experiences. The lyrics honour a finished relationship, the chorus containing the poetic and poignant line, ‘Our love lies in the ocean….‘. Whereas it could have been arranged as a simple acoustic ballad, musically it lies halfway between the EP’s ballads and rockier songs. It’s an intense, powerful track and a suitable ending to the musical journey of this EP, giving a sense of having come full circle.
Overall, this is a very accomplished and highly enjoyable set of tracks that manage to cover as much musical range and emotional territory as you would expect from a full length album. Vitne has an excellent voice and writes well crafted, intelligent music and lyrics that stand out as a cut above most rock music. His backing band all give superb performances that match the ambition of the artist – you would have to think its only a matter of time before Vitne breaks through to become a worldwide famous star.
Verdict: 8.8 out of 10