Eighteen Visions – XVIII

Label: Rise Records. Release Date: 2 June 2017.

XVIII might just take the crown for most unexpected 2017 release. Last year Metalmance raved about EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ back catalogue in Weekly Roundup #6, and stated it would be very unlikely there would be a reunion in the near future. Well, 10 years on from their breakup, EIGHTEEN VISIONS sneakily reformed and recorded a new album with the help of ANAAL NATHRAKH’s Mick Kenney (who also produces ex-EIGHTEEN VISIONS and BLEEDING THROUGH member Brandan Schieppatti’s solo project THE IRON SON.) and it’s fair to say it’s a return to their roots. Everything, from their logo to shots of bees and mannequins in their promotional materials, all hark back to their first major release Until The Ink Runs Out in 2000. XVIII feels like a homage to their past selves and their late bassist Mick Morris, as it meanders through familiar territory (i.e the use of film samples which has not been practised since Vanity in 2002), but in true EIGHTEEN VISIONS fashion, it sounds nothing like anything they have written before. Each album shifts massively from style to style and this new release is no different.

Blasting in with Crucified, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are shaking off any false impressions from their last self-titled album, an album which saw the band being branded as sell-outs. This storming intro, with its ferocious drumming and blackened riffs, immediately makes the point that EIGHTEEN VISIONS are heavier than ever and are back to show the scene how it’s done. The lyrics themselves could be interpreted in many ways; “Still crucified. I’ve never been consumed. Never conformed like you.” Could this be the band’s response to comments about their last album? How they’ve always done what the hell they’ve wanted despite what fans and the scene say?

The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time is quite a groovy fair, with James Hart’s distinct screams tearing through the track. The chorus is not too dissimilar to something you would hear on their self-titled, infectiously catchy yet backed up with heavy accompaniment. They always had killer breakdowns (Tower of Snakes anyone?) but the breakdown in this track is something else. Guitarist Keith Barney has seriously concocted a batch of tasty riffs for this album and has plunged the band into another level of heaviness. This formula continues for the third track Underneath The Gun, with the vocal melody in the middle eight and the end sounding reminiscent of the self-titled track off Vanity. Heavy. There’s that word again, heavy…

A tribute to Mick Morris comes in the form of the intense track Live Again. An unapologetically heavy single, it features more top notch riffs but also some of the album’s most carefully considered lyrics; “Stay inside me. We’ll never forget the days. We made the most of our memories.” The song descends into a powerful rock chorus but never strays far from the brutal foundations of the composition. A fitting, and heartfelt tribute to Morris’ legacy indeed.

Hart’s rock vocals raise their head again in Laid to Waste in the Shit of Man but erupt back into their raw state for the punishing Oath. Many have interpreted this song to be the band’s loyalty to the straight edge, but it could represent many things. A likely interpretation is staying true to music and family, it follows the same attitude as You Don’t Have to be Blood to be Family-era THROWDOWN. The gritty instrumentation is a mish-mash of all their previous albums, it sounds like Until the Ink Runs Out, Vanity and Obsession all rolled into one. Ladies and gentlemen, this is EIGHTEEN VISIONS.

Spit and Picture Perfect are further examples of filthy tunes with oodles of groove and distortion. If their self-titled album was geared towards an 80’s vibe then XVIII definitely veers towards a 90’s ALICE IN CHAINS edge in places. Fake Leather Jacket could easily fit on 2004’s Obsession, with its groovy riff reminiscent to Crushed and its crushing chorus. The lyrics are also quite curious; “Said youʼd make me famous. The year of the “v.” But youʼre just so epic full of shit.” Could this be directed to Epic Records who let them down with promoting their self-titled? This track is full suggestive comments but once again in true 18V fashion it could be interpreted in many different ways.

Each EIGHTEEN VISIONS’ album has an absolutely spellbinding track and XVIII is no different. A solid album and one which has exceeded all expectations, this record needed a statement finale. With For This I Sacrifice they have achieved this, a track dripping with passion and feeling, it is one of the heaviest love songs you’ll hear all year. It also demonstrates just how far Hart’s vocals have come since the introduction of cleans on Vanity. A spine tingling ending for one of their best albums to date, there’s no doubt about it, EIGHTEEN VISIONS are back and ready to rejuvenate the metalcore scene again. Welcome back chaps.

 

Weekly Roundup #17

Progressive, hardcore and hard rock galore.

Band to watch: WITHOUT WAVES. On March 17th, this experimental group from Chicago will be releasing their album Lunar through Prosthetic Records, and judging by the two tracks unleashed already, this is one release not to be missed! Sewing Together the Limbs shows the heavier, more progressive side of the band in the same vein as TEXTURES. With chaotic verses and a LAMB OF GOD style groove, it is a treat of a taster for the new album. The clean vocals almost have a grunge feel to them before they relapse to crazy screams. WITHOUT WAVES seek to incorporate a variety of music genres from extreme metal to jazz fusion and by the sounds of it, everything in between. New track Never Know Quite Why is the opposite of Sewing Together The Limbs, a more chilled out vibe but still well thought out. Anthony Cwan’s vocals really come to light here, his mesmerising voice runs the risk of being contemporary metal’s most alluring warble. If these two tracks reflect the diversity of the album then WITHOUT WAVES may be something special.

 

Video to watch: PALM READER. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing PALM READER live, then you’ll what a gloriously intense live band they are. With new video for Always Darkest, the band are displayed in all of their energetic punk glory. Tonight they embark on a UK headline tour and this video is a good indication of what potential punters could expect. The use of strobes in the video also adds to the visual chaos, something which should be reflected in their real life performance to great effect. It’s rare to find a music video which matches the intensity of a band’s live show but somehow PALM READER have achieved this. Make sure you catch them on tour now to see for yourself.

 

In the stereo: EIGHTEEN VISIONS. Last night the metalcore and hardcore world was sent into a frenzy by a simple picture uploaded on Instagram by a certain EIGHTEEN VISIONS. You might remember Metalmance included them in our sixth weekly roundup as ‘band to rediscover’. You might also remember we said that the band were most unlikely to reform, in the near future at least. Well, we were wrong. But so joyously wrong. The band are teasing fans with a new release in the works and it’s safe to say 18V fans are very, very excited. By the looks of things at moment it seems to be James Hart, Keith Barney and Trevor Friedrich in tow at the moment, but it’s safe to say we’ll be keeping a very close eye on what the band will get up to. To celebrate their reunion we’ve been rocking their back catalogue today; from Until The Ink Runs Out to their self-titled. Every release was different to the last, making this new album a complete mystery. Will they sound hardcore like their Vanity era? Or will they be hard rock like their self-titled? Or a new direction altogether? We shall wait and see.

Weekly Roundup #6

 

Band to rediscover: THROWDOWN. With the news of the EIGHTEEN VISIONS reunion, we can’t help but look back on the other Orange County bands of the same ilk. One notable band is THROWDOWN, although the band haven’t split up they have been incredibly quiet for a few years. THROWDOWN and EIGHTEEN VISIONS always seemed to be swapping members in the past (Vocalist Dave Peters used to play guitar for EIGHTEEN VISIONS and Keith Barney used to front THROWDOWN but then played guitar for 18V) but the former were always on the more hardcore side of things. Both bands were straight edge but THROWDOWN perhaps more openly with the lyrical content of some of their songs (i.e The Edge is Strong from the 2001 album You Don’t Have to be Blood to be Family) and further on their career they went down the PANTERA route with big riffs but they never lost their hardcore intensity, something which fans were grateful for. Fourth album Vendetta, released in 2005 is arguably the band’s breakthrough album. It saw them shift from primarily hardcore to a more metal stance, with lead single Burn demonstrating THROWDOWN’s ability to mix heavy yet catchy riffs with a raw attitude.

Weekly Roundup #6

Melodic, metal and prog all in one blog.

Band to watch: DISTORTED HARMONY. Recently wowing crowds at this year’s ProgPower Europe, this melodic prog band from Tel Aviv already have two mesmerising albums under their belts. 2014’s album Chain Reaction is a delicious melodic package of progressive metal goodness. Their songs shimmer with spine-tingling piano as well as chord progressions which will make your heart soar. Thought provoking lyrics as well as emotional themes are the orders of the day with opener Every Time She Smiles being a firm fan favourite. Its tone and melody seem strangely nostalgic with flashbacks to bands you might have listened to a decade ago e.g. FINCH and STATISTICS but the remainder of the album takes many twists and turns it is hard to predict where the band will venture next. The single, Natural Selection storms in with a spectacularly fast proggy intro, a bit like a quicker THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT with politically charged lyrical content, but what always astounds listeners is the sheer talent of all the band members especially keyboardist Yoav Efron who also writes the majority of the songs. Vocalist Misha Soukhinin has an impressive range and such a smooth timbre to his voice you will fall under DISTORTED HARMONY’s spell in a second. Closer, Methylene Blue can only be described as the soundtrack to when you’re waking up from a dream. You may have to pinch yourself to confirm DISTORTED HARMONY are real, but trust me, they are worth the pinch.

 

Video to watch: ISSUES. This week, this American heavy pop band released quite a powerful video for their track Blue Wall. Aimed at protesting against police brutality it has become quite a talking point amongst fans. At the beginning of their video the band state the song is about “taking responsibility and making peace”. They are setting out to “tear down the blue wall which silences the good cops and empowers the bad”. They want to encourage listeners to reform their relationship with the American police. The video features ferocious live footage of the band and a running narrative of the theme, but what is so good about this release is the fact the accompanying song is the band’s heaviest on their second album Headspace. The rap and screams blasts their point across, yet also keeps older fans pleased as it is a return to a style similar to their self-titled album. ISSUES are still proving to be an exciting band that is sure to hit the mainstream soon with their catchy as hell songs, but Blue Wall shows the band still have a lot to say. Make sure you hear them loud and clear.

 

Still in the stereo: CANE HILL. This aggressive troupe from New Orleans, LA released their debut album Smile back in July and it’s safe to say it completely blew nu metal fans away. It still packs a brutal punch, devouring your favourite American aggressive bands and excreting them out into their own brand of ear-bashing, ferocious metal. Their sound harks back to the glory days of the best bands of the nu metal i.e. KORN and the straight up metal days similar to early SLIPKNOT but all with a confident swagger and less focus on an aesthetic. The sheer brutality of their songs dusts off the somewhat stale genre, making it relevant once again in the current resurgence, threatening to blow nu metal veterans i.e. (HED)PE and AMERICAN HEAD CHARGE completely out of the water. CANE HILL also have a modern metal sound, a bit like MOTIONLESS IN WHITE at times, but without the foundation and eyeliner. Instead they bring no nonsense, balls-to-the-wall metal and if live reviews are anything to go by then their forthcoming UK tour with BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE in December will be one hell of a belter. So catch up with Smile and educate yo’selves with ear-assaulting tracks such as St Veronica, provocative tunes (see, Cream Pie) and darker ballads i.e. You’re So Wonderful.

 

Band to rediscover: EIGHTEEN VISIONS. This month 12 years ago, this straight edge metal band from Orange County, CA released Obsession, an album many would argue would trigger the beginning of the end for the band. This view might have been due to the album being their first to be released on a major album, but personally I thought Obsession was their most solid and coherent album yet. Creating a follow-up to their metal-tinged hardcore opus Vanity was never going to be an easy feat (that album is still highly regarded in the underground community) but Obsession was one highly polished, melodic metal beast it was difficult not to fall in love with it. Vocalist James Hart used more clean singing on the album (see closer, Said and Done) but when things got heavy, boy, did they get heavy! The breakdown in Tower of Snakes was the hottest of 2004 but it was Waiting for the Heavens which fully demonstrated the band’s maturity and ability to pen such sensitive yet hard-hitting songs. This album took the band all over the world touring with bands from LAMB OF GOD to BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE. Their energetic live shows was stuff of legend and the live scene has been missing their ‘fashioncore’, bass lickin’ ways ever since. Unfortunately the band broke up after their infamous self titled album which divided opinion more than Moses parted the sea. The album was radio friendly rock which was a far cry from their brutal early albums (check out Until The Ink Runs Out) but it was still a solid release and did not deserve such a brutal backlash. But fans and the metal community can still find comfort in their back catalogue, but it is unlikely the band will reunite in the near future at least.

 

Band yet to listen to: KAUAN. This Ukrainian post-rock band with folk and doom elements have been the first band confirmed to play ProgPower Europe 2017. A more intense listen is needed!