15 November 2015
Vision of Disorder - Razed to the Ground
We have not exactly been kind to Vision of Disorder in the past after their original splitting up, in our review of 'From Bliss to Devastation' (cleverly linked here) stated the it had sadly not aged that well; we have not reviewed any of their material since they reformed in 2008 (after a one-off reunion in 2006) and have flat out ignored their various off-shots such as Bloodsimple, The Warped Weeble Wobbles & Karnov. We have also not returned to the fantastic original duo of 'Imprint' and 'Vision of Disorder' (something I am hoping to rectify soon) as those two (for me at least, Jerm & Luke has conflicting opinions to me) are great records and formed quite an important part of my growing up. So you may be wondering why I start a review which I will be posting in places where the band can see, that I have not exactly enjoyed everything they have done. Well, for honesty really - I do love their first two studio releases (as well as the 'Still' EP), but I was not a fan of everything and I would rather be honest with bands than lie to them. Now Luke brought to our attention that this was being released and after some battering with Jerm (he took another blog off my hands as I am getting swamped), I am reviewing this latest release (it has been released a week earlier in Europe). I am intrigued to how they sound after they reformed, I am hoping for a return to that earlier sound but as always you are not always gonna get what you want; let us see if it is also the case here.
Starting the album off is "Heart of Darkness" which starts off like the band have been unleashed onto the world and they are not happy with what they see, it is an aggressive opening with the band hitting their hardcore/groove metal combo in seconds. It is a power opening and the main riff spills out of the speakers with incredible ease, it sounds as if it could have been created in that early green period for me and it is a solid opening for this album. "Hours in Chaos" actually take this album up an extra notch with this protest song about authority taking things a step to far, it is a good mixture of their aggressive side and has some clear vocals that provide a reflective side for the pounding nature of the song. If you are into your hardcore, this should be ticking all of your boxes already as it has the swirling riffs, the aggressive drumming, the bass that sounds like it can punch holes through walls and a scream that sounds like the second coming and a battle cry. A good sign of this is I found myself moshing along to it, I think I have found a new groove track for one of my various play lists. The next track is the longest of the album, a five minute number called "Electric Sky". This slows the speed down, but not the intensity as it is smoulders it way across the listener. It is not too different from the beginning two songs to take away from the original songs, it does have a good riff running through the song and it is well performed. However, it does not really work miracles for me - it is a decent song that does not bore or make the listener lose interest, but that is all for me.
Next is the title track "Razed to the Ground" and it is a fast, aggressive protest song about the war machine, 9/11 and how devastating that after effects have been and how the band honour and remember the dead (the band are from Long Island, New York). Now whatever your point of view on the attacks, you can sympathise with the band and their standpoint about their home being attacked with the loss of lives that happened on that day. For that reason, I will state that I find this to be a well performed song and will serve as their tribute to the unfortunate victims of those acts. "The Craving" has a subtle down-tune riff that keeps on repeating until the song is soon engraved into your very being, it sounds like a mosh pit may erupt at any point; but the chorus does not match the verses in terms of intensity which is a requirement of this type of song. Sadly it seems they almost had a victory, only for them to sadly fluff that last little thing. "Cut My Teeth" is a strange number that is both one of the strongest of the album, but it is also one of those numbers that makes me scratch my head as well. During the first few listens, it just did not click with me, I could not get into it but I was not disliking it either. It is with further listens that it starts to embed itself in your imagination, it really does not get its groove on till the second verse where it seems to fall into place. Sometimes a song needs a few spins to settle and this is one of those tracks, it is really worth it though.
"Red on the Walls" is another mosh pit in the form of song; it has the stop/start tempo that a good pit song should have, it has a solid set of lyrics for people to shout along to and it as they jump around and release their built up tensions. It is a solid number that keeps the album going in the right direction, but does not set my sense on fire. "Nightcrawler" (not to be confused with the Judas Priest song) is once more another decent song that keeps you interested, with a chunky riff that slows this down but keeps up the aggression as well. I think at this point of the album you are either going to hate or love this song depending on your view of the previous seven songs. It is a little too slow for my personal tastes, but I can still appreciate the song for what it is and it does improve on anything I heard on 'From Bliss....' (sorry guys, that album was not for me). "Severed Wing" is the penultimate song on this album, it is one of the most aggressive songs on the album and it nails all that is good with this band. Drumming that sounds like thunder, riffs that sound like machines crossing the world, bass that rumbles and screams that sound like demons are here. Just like "Hour of Chaos" beforehand, it nails it completely and you are lost in a sea of riffs, groove and hardcore that does not disappoint. Ending the album is "Amurdica: A Culture of Violence" which is confused at best, slow and sludge like in places, it starts to sound as if they are going to go all Pantera in places (not a bad thing); but every now and then it has a Jekyll/Hyde change and we are in sections that remind me of the parts of 'From Bliss....' that did not work for me and it ends the album on a confusing note to say the least.
This album is a real improvement since I last heard Vision of Disorder, but it is not quite a return to their earlier form. A few of these songs are a bit lacklustre and it ends on a confusing note after the song of the album, these moments do not overshadow this album but they do effect the end result. However, it does have its merit and I can see why they have been getting such positive press on this album. When it flies and everything falls into place, there is nothing that can match Vision of Disorder; I hope that this is a sign of things to come and not a full stop - they sound as if they are getting their groove back. It might not be the most original of hardcore albums, but it is a solid, good album that will go down a storm with their fans. Jerm will probably still hate it though, but he has a stubborn streak; if you like hardcore with no issues towards smashing you around, this could be the next release for you.
7 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out
Top track - Severed Wing
You can purchase Razed to the Ground from Amazon here
You can follow the activities of Vision of Disorder on Facebook here (there is no VoD website)
You can purchase Razed to the Ground from Candlelight Records USA Bandcamp here (please note, the album does not come out until 20th November in America, it is already out in Europe)
You can stream Razed to the Ground on Spotify here
You can stream Razed to the Ground on Deezer here
You can stream Razed to the Ground on Tidal here
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