by Ryan Meehan
I had actually never heard VOD before a couple of nights ago. Jim turned me on to them and had informed me that they had been Slipknot’s opening act the last two nights that their original lineup performed. Eric had told me they were sort of a hardcore-based metal band out of New York, so that may have influenced my impending disappointment because every time I hear “New York” and “hardcore” in the same sentence I immediately think “WarZone”.
Just so we’re clear here, these guys are NOT WarZone. By comparison to other New York based hardcore bands, Sick of it All and WarZone make Vision of Disorder sound like fucking Sleater-Kinney. I did get nearly enough out of this CD as I wanted. Therefore is review is going to be different than our standard track-by-track reviews, as I feel that it just didn’t warrant that deep of an analysis.
ALBUM REVIEW: VISION OF DISORDER – “THE CURSED REMAIN CURSED”
Right off the bat the first thing I noticed is that the bass sounds really, really good. They establish a decent heavy metal feel and the first track “Loveless” hits hard and introduces the record well. However shortly thereafter it becomes almost tiresome to listen to, as is sometimes the case when an artist puts their best foot first. The CD moves slowly through “Set to Fail” and “Blood Red Sun” which in the band’s defense are very short. A majority of the songs on this record are short (no song tops out at over four and a half minutes) and in the band’s defense it’s probably best that they keep it that way. (Editor’s note: The whole theory of “short and sweet” when it comes to certain metal acts it’s very important to mention because there have been bands in the past who have tried to string several ideas into one song, and it just seems like overkill. A good example of this would be Philadelphia death metal outfit Insatanity – whose music was great and they had an amazing drummer, but also fell victim to their songs being way too lengthy and whose popularity has since decreased most likely because of that. Perhaps Vision of Disorder’s short song lengths are one of the reasons they have been able to keep this going for 20 years…but I digress…)
Moving right along, the track that contains the album title (“Hard Times”) violates a cardinal sin when it comes to any type of music, it rips off a hook from a classic. The song ends with the singer screaming “A bullet in your fucking head”, which of course is a ripoff of a Rage Against the Machine song of the same name. With the internet being as readily accessible as it is these days, it’s hard to believe that guys with this type of musical background hadn’t heard that track before or weren’t aware that using that lyric would be a bright shining example of plagiarism. After this point it was very hard for me to get behind anything that they were doing, so my judgment may have been a little bit clouded by that.
By “The Enemy” (Track 7) the band has almost completely shifted their focus and I can’t help but think that by this point (at least vocally) they are trying to sound like Alice in Chains. This is painfully confusing and leads me to believe that this band suffers from a bit of an identity question. To clarify it’s not an identity crisis per se, it just means that there is likely some type of ongoing question within the band as to which musical direction they would like to focus on en route to their main goal. A clearer sense of who they want to be might earn them a little bit more respect in metal circles. It’s not that the power isn’t there, because they certainly have that down.
It’s very apparent that Vision of Disorder goes after the sound of crossover thrash, but just ends up somewhere in the middle of the interstate between metalcore and “This sucks, put in something else”. I’m not saying the record sucks, but I’m saying that it’s on the same road.
By the time the album concludes, it’s pretty obvious to see why a lot of the bands these guys used to tour with have gone on to be extremely successful while they’ve continued to actively man the club scene. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, I just find it hard to believe that’s what they were going for in a career direction. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have paired themselves with a band like Slipknot to begin with.
Musically, this record really struggles to pull itself together at key points. The transitions are very sloppy which is crucial in metal like this where tempo changes are a huge part of the way the songs are structured. From a production standpoint even though I love the sound of the bass because it’s so hardcore, the rest of the instruments aren’t very well assembled and the toms are WAY too low in the mix. One of the key elements of any subgenre of hardcore is that the drums are very loud and powerful, and this CD doesn’t exactly feature that rhythmic dominance. It’s not that it’s a horrible record, it’s just that any one of those two genres or a combination of both is usually always aimed to destroy what the rest of music sounds like at that moment in time and this disc doesn’t do that at all. Overall, I thought that it just didn’t have the material and musicianship to make it anything more than a barely below average album. Putting out a record like this can actually be worse than putting out an album that bombs, because the listener tosses is in the “ehhh…” pile and then they never listen to it again. At least with the bomb, there’s the chance that you might actually pull out the album again just to examine what actually went wrong. If I had to add anything to the classic phrase “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” I would tack on “unless you strive to pursue mediocrity”.
While I might be able to deal with some of the errors that were made in the writing and production of this record, after doing some further research I found out that this is their sixth studio album. If you’ve been in this business for a fifth of a century by the sixth album you should have things figured out a little bit better. They could stand to learn a lot from listening to Cannibal Corpse’s “Gallery of Suicide” when it comes to switching from one part of a song to another. Additionally there are five members in this band and in both of the examples of NYC hardcore that I listed earlier there are only four. Here again, not saying they have to be spitting images of those particular bands themselves, but the type of music that they play (which lacks a lot of leads and guitar harmonies) doesn’t really necessitate having that second guitarist on payroll.
In my opinion you can go ahead and skip this one if you’re into hardcore and/or metal, it’s not as if it’s even close to a must-own by any means. I’ll pass.
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