Deep inside we knew we were still due something. From Bliss to Devastation kept on resurfacing from the depths of our dusty, imaginary shelves lost somewhere in our memory. The years following Vision of Disorder’s (VOD) split in 2002 saw them being held responsible (together with a bunch of other bands) for the birth and growth of nü metal; a genre which overstayed its welcome far longer than it took it to express itself in a constructive manner. If it wasn’t all bad, that was probably because the seeds had been sown by bands like Faith No More, Tool and Rage against the Machine… and Vision of Disorder.
Long Island, New York: the year is 1992 and the fresh air shaking the Big Duck is not coming from the Atlantic Ocean but from the stale and humid underground venues hosting gigs of what appears to be a new strain of hardcore and a new strain of something else. “We were in a unique situation back when we started out on Long Island,” VOD bassist Mike Fleishmann tells us. “We used to get the opportunity to play awesome hardcore shows at like, the YMCA, a skate park or a church basement with an all hardcore line-up, but then the very next weekend we could play with bands like Type O Negative, Machine Head, or Korn at the local metal club (The Roxy). Both scenes at the time were awesome. Any show you played would have 500 to 1000 people there; it was great for us because we got to play for two different audiences, which helped us get recognized by Roadrunner”.
It looks as the heterogeneity of the scene helped the formation of a hybrid, which was yet to be labeled. Fast-forward to 1998, Italy: yours truly was 22 and on the receiving end of two albums from this band of angry New Yorkers. An obscure internaut on the other side of the pond had described VOD as, “this new band, man, they’re not hardcore: they’re more than that! They’re not metal: they’re more like hardcore!” and the confusing description was more than enough to spark an interest. The rest of the story includes a long wait entrusted to a precarious reliance on a 28k modem. “Ha!! 28k modem!! That must have taken a while!” Mike exclaims, doing nothing to conceal his surprise.
But the waves that scene was making were already huge and bands like VOD and Life of Agony were becoming omnipresent even on the European version of “Headbangers’ Ball.” Mike spares a thought for all the groups which never really made it outside of the United States. “Yeah, there were other hardcore bands on Long Island we used to play with all the time that were great: Mind over Matter, Neglect, Silent Majority, and Loyal to None. They all deserve to be recognized.”
Mind over Matter are in fact to blame for inventing screamo, while the rest made the history of NYC hardcore: not a bad company, indeed. But the real secret of Vision of Disorder’s success back then, seemed to be in the simple fact that while they subscribed to the hardcore scene, they were never really part of the bigger movement. The proof is, once again, the diversity of their influences, which according to the imposing bass player, still vary from “classic rock, 90s metal, grunge and alternative. As far as newer heavier bands, we’d say Mastodon and Lamb of God. We all listen to pretty much everything from doo-wop to country to death metal”. The result is a patchwork of influences, which almost sealed their fate when the controversial From Bliss to Devastation came out. Its root lied in a brand of southern rock which seemed to upset the fans, but the reasons for their split and the many failed occasions lie somewhere else as well: “The stars never really aligned for us I guess. We were never in the right place at the right time, but maybe that is our secret, we are always two steps to the right or left… But we feel better than we ever have now (knock on wood) and are really looking forward to people hearing this album and playing shows again.”
The Cursed Remain Cursed is on for release on the 17th of September in Europe and 18th in North America and it has got the same kind of vibes, which made albums like their namesake from 1996 and the proceeding, unavoidable “Imprint”, milestones for any metal fan. And this is the basis of what Vision of Disorder stand for in 2012. “We have all remained close friends throughout the years,” Mike adds, “even though we were apart as a band. We have all grown as people since we split, which has definitely helped. It was like putting on an old pair of shoes, they fit nice but I’d be lying if there weren’t still a little stink in there. Right away we started getting excited about the songs we were writing and we were not under any pressure, which was refreshing for us.”
Vision of Disorder have always seemed to explore new trends a little before the others. This happened with southern rock, sludge and even metalcore. They have never been too lucky even when it came to choosing the right record label. Back in 2010, the band confidently stated that a massive amount of promotion was not needed because the hard work was already done (pretty well, I should say) in the 90s. “I confirm that statement. We are very happy with the way things are going now with Candlelight. They are the only label we have ever worked with, that have encouraged us to be us. It really inspired us to have a label put that kind of faith into this band after being away for 10 years. We are not a new band and last time we put out an album the internet was still kind of a new thing, so hopefully we can spark up some excitement for our return easily.”
This is hopefully not at the expense of the bands which have kept the guys busy during the last 10 years: Bloodsimple (singer Tim Williams and guitarist Mike Kennedy) and Karnov (drummer Brendon Cohen and Mike’s own project).
“I would say so but, hey, you never know,” argues a now relaxed Mike. “I think both of those bands were a necessary part of our personal growth and in the long run they are what helped bring us all back together.” True. The amazing result of this experience is that Vision of Disorder now sound stronger than ever. Their ability to sound melodic without betraying their roots and most important of all, without sounding banal while avoiding clichés, means that the writing process is complex and elaborated.
“Thanks, but it is nothing difficult at all. I think a lot of the bands we were influenced by in our formative years had that ability as well, so hopefully we pull that off. Tim has good instincts vocally so we try not to interfere with what he brings to the table. When you over-think or over-analyze a part, you can really ruin it. We have done that before plenty of times!”
But it is now time to finally let the (live) music do the talking. Back in 1998 I made a promise to a 22-year-old guy who wanted to see VOD live at all costs. He bought two albums from this new band and man, they’re not hardcore… “We have 2 UK gigs coming up in September, we are doing some East Coast US dates into 2013, and then we are on Soundwave in Australia with Metallica in February. If you want to stay up to date with our touring info just check out www.facebook.com/VisionofDisorder.”
I can’t wait to introduce you to that guy. He’s 36 now. Maybe you guys can have a pint or two. “Make that 3 or four and you got a deal!”Approved. Count me in.