There are three things you need to know in regards to Raunchy: 1) I’ve had an unhealthy love affair with them since stumbling across Wasteland Discotheque back in 2008; 2) they have the most misleading band name ever; and 3) never say “can I get Raunchy?” when asking for their promo. After flat-out failing the AMG sexual harassment training because I couldn’t hear the instructor with headphones on, my immediate thoughts of Vices.Virtues.Visions. are quite positive. While not their best album, it’s filled with all the moody moments, heavy riffs, and hooking choruses that you expect from this Danish outfit. But with a new vocalist, will you still get that same Raunchy feeling? [We talked about this. Report to HR…again! – Steel Druhm].
Raunchy’s sixth release finds them continuing down the road originally paved by Death Pop Romance and expanded on by Wasteland Discotheque and A Discord Electric. Leaving their original singer and many of their industrial elements (Fear Factory-meets-Strapping Young Lad) behind after Confusion Bay, Raunchy forged ahead with a new set of vocal chords and incorporated larger doses of keys, atmosphere, crushing riffs, and memorable choruses (à la Mercenary/Soilwork). Kasper Thomsen’s pipes helped to redefine their style and hone it for nearly a decade, but now Thomsen is gone and many believed that Raunchy would be too. Fortunately, newcomer Mike Semesky utilizes similar range and ferocity on Vices.Virtues.Visions. While I will always prefer Thomsen’s vox, Semesky proves in the opening moments of “Eyes Of A Storm” that he’s quite capable of manning the helm. Alternating between a similar raspiness to Thomsen’s during the crunchier parts and power/range in the hooky chorus, I exhale a sigh of relief that the core sound is intact.
The venomous vox and deathy, Mercenary riffs continue into “Truth Maker” and, as expected, we are again blessed with a catchy chorus with backing vocals provided by keysman Jeppe Christensen (which reminds me a little of Pain). There’s a bit of a verse-chorus structure going on here – with the occasional interlude to break up the pattern – but the songwriting is good enough to bring uniqueness and memorability to the tracks. However, standouts like “Never Enough,” “Anesthesia Throne” and “The Singularity Heart” utilize builds and atmosphere for the ultimate Raunchy effect. Each of these songs builds and builds before climaxing with skin-tingling satisfaction. It’s rare to find something that delivers so effectively.
Unfortunately, not everything works on V.V.V. Ditties like “Digital Dreamer” and “The Castaway Crown” ride on top of key leads that are overpowering and give an almost circus-like feel to the songs. I’ve always loved their keyboards, but some of these leads just feel odd and distracting. When they stick to using the keyboards for atmosphere and emotion, they rarely go wrong. Another misstep is the completely out-of-place, upbeat, groovy “Luxuria.” To some it may feel fun but that’s just the problem. It feels “poppy” and has a Pain-ful, metalcore-like delivery that just doesn’t fit with the rest of the album.
Like most of Raunchy releases, V.V.V. production duties were handled by Jacob Hansen and the result is quite compressed. Thankfully, it does little to kill the experience for me (maybe it’s because I expect it from the band and have learned to deal with it). Dynamics aside, the mix allows every instrument to contribute fully and the musicianship and songwriting is on par with A Discord Electric. That being said, I find myself focusing a lot on Morten Toft Hansen’s kit. The dude is definitely the backbone and has a good ear for when to blast and when to hold back (check out the cool outro to “Digital Dreamer” to seamlessly leads-in to “Never Enough” and his contributions to “The Singularity Heart”).
V.V.V. doesn’t quite reach the bar set by the smooth and cohesive Wasteland Discotheque, but it definitely gives A Discord Electric a run for its money, which is a pretty damn good place to be. Raunchy rarely disappoints with each release and even with some of the filler on V.V.V., I’ll be returning to this for years to come.