Villainy - Villainy II DimThough I have no musical ability, back in high school I used to love plucking random strings on my friend’s Stratocaster knockoff and imagining I was composing an avant-garde interlude for some progressive screamo album.1 Maybe I’d get really good one day, grow my hair out, and be the heartthrob of emo girls everywhere. Rock star dreams aside, I knew at heart my ‘playing’ was garbage, marred by awkward pauses where I wasn’t sure what note to hit next and a general ‘made-this-up-on-the-spot’ vibe. But much as I’ve tried to forget, years later I’ve now discovered an album that vividly reminds me of those days of bedroom guitar fumblefucking; and the result is just as awful as you’d expect.

Admittedly, this Netherlands-based trio has heaps more musical talent than I ever did, but that doesn’t mean Villainy II: Dim is a good album. Initially, I went in expecting a blackened crust treat based on the occult black-and-white artwork and reviews of Villainy’s debut, 2013’s Villainy I. And while those elements are here, Dim is also quite proggy, doomy, and even rock-y at times, sounding something like a blackened Kvelertak trying their hand at Formulas of Death-era Tribulation. Take the track “Nebulous Chasm,” which begins with an extended sequence of clean picking and sluggish riffs before cresting into a peppy beat with great rocking, crusty riffs. Later, the first half of “Valley” invokes a similar feeling—but it’s also this track that serves as an excellent example of how things go terribly amiss.

See, Dim’s problem is that in between these aforementioned sections of decent music are extended, vaguely jazzy interludes that take these 49 minutes from what could be an acceptable black-crust record into an exercise in utter tedium. Right from the start, the opening notes of instrumental intro “A Familiar Wind” sound jumbled, like the guitarist improvised them in the recording booth. It’s not necessarily bad; but the Halloween carousel riff that follows sure is. Likewise, the second half of aforementioned “Valley” is largely plagued by the same issue, featuring dull clean work that fails to offer any build or atmosphere. The worst culprits, however, are first-half instrumentals “Dwaalspoor” and “Only I Have the Light of Lights.” The former song rides its lame swinging riff for what feels like twelve rather than two minutes, while the latter is Dim’s worst example of an awkward-sounding, useless interlude that feels all too much like my own adolescent musical navel gazing.

Villainy - 2016

While Dim’s production is actually surprising good—especially the clear, crisp drumming and sharp guitars—that actually works to the album’s detriment at times. The seven minute slog “Jewel” ends up being a failed attempt at doom-death that slaughters the record’s pace early on, sapped of atmosphere by the same production that makes the uptempo parts sound so vivid. And sadly, while I suspect Villainy would be a much better band if they stuck solely to these thrashy black-crust portions, even interlude-free cuts like “The Soul Is Untouched” end up sounding so milquetoast that I doubt trimming the fat could have even saved this album.

The biggest shame is that Villainy clearly have some talented musicians. The drumming moves deftly from blasting to swing beats to lively rolls, and moments like the terrific extended guitar solo in closer “Herschapen” and the Sound of Perseverance-style riff in “Inside Her Hide and Fire” show the guitarist has the chops to deliver interesting riffs. Even the vocalist’s snarly growl has a nice touch of attitude in it. But on the whole, Dim feels less like an album and more like an extended jam session that was recorded in one take so the trio could leave the studio to grab some pizza and beers; an effect reinforced by the fact that many of these tracks flow directly into each other. After my first few listens I thought maybe I just didn’t ‘get’ Dim, but having now spent far more time with it than I care to, I’ve concluded there never was anything to get at all. Simply put, this album is empty: barren of mood, tension, or purpose, meandering in its own faux-sophistication and offering only a few scattered glimmers of decency to keep it from being utterly worthless. Just like my own attempts at music, this is best left disregarded and forgotten.


Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Listenable Records
Websites: facebook.com/villainyofficial | villainyofficial.bandcamp.com
Release Dates: EU: 2016.01.22 | NA: 02.12.2016

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  1. Please direct all complaints about our reviewers’ specific metal credentials and/or competencies, as well as indications about how much you can bench press to Steel Druhm.
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  • Elton Chagas

    After reading your review I was expecting something really, really bad.

    But, to be honest, this is not the worst thing I’ve heard in my life. This music just lacks any climax, and as you said, seems more like a bad rehearsal that was recorded and released as an album.

    Nevertheless, amazing review.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    hmmm I was just listened to Nebulous Chasm expecting a train wreck but I gotta say I enjoyed it. I liked the ‘live’ sounding guitar tones I thought it had an enjoyable Voivod Nothing Face kinda vibe though maybe lacking the compositional mastery and atmosphere of that band, there was enough there for me to want to have a bit of a deeper dig…

    • Mark Z

      The music is a lot more digestible taken one track at a time. Still not great, but at least tolerable. Trying to get through a full 49 minutes is a different story.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        ha yes I did struggle as it played on, but Nebulous Chasm is a pretty cool track.

  • Krzystov

    Wow. This review is pretty spot on. I would just argue that it is more a disappointment (#2) rather than “bad (rating #1.5). This sounds like a band with a lot of talent, a lot of influences, but alas, not a lot of songwriting skill. Hopefully they will work on that because this is a band that potentially could create something quite extraordinary should they find the will to do so. Their style right now has no direction. When I was done listening to this I thought it might have been a mix tape.

  • JohnC

    I’d give it a 2 or 2.5. The fact it’s too long for this style is bad. The fact that the songwriting is poor is also bad. But the production and execution given the poor writing is good.

    • Bas

      I agree. Its a bit missing some direction at moments and that makes it feel too long (tension and mood are there, but purpose is lacking). It needs some focus. I like the celtic frost meets voivod sound (duh), even for the doomy parts. I don’t think its a bad mixture. To me it sounds promising. I had low expectations after the review, so no disappointment, but mixed.

      • JohnC

        Yeah, the band definitely has the potential to make a great album. This one isn’t it.

  • Boter

    And yet another 1.5 from my home country. Sigh. Where’re the days when the likes of Pestilence and Gorefest ruled the seas of (death) metal? Hopefully Textures’ latest album will make amends.

    • Bas

      Don’t worry, there is still some good stuff… check out Onheil (their last album got a good review last year on this site) or otherwise Faal, Fluisteraars or Wedergangers (these are all more back than death metal, but still interesting).

      Gorefest :-) that is long ago :-)

      • Feytalist

        Fluisteraars is legitimately good.

        Pretty impressed with Onheil too, in fact.

      • Capra Hircus Hubertus

        Kjeld is really good as well.

        • Bas

          I’ll check it out !

    • Don C

      Well, there are many great Dutch metal bands at the moment. Just a few: Terzij de Horde, Fluisteraars, Lubbert Das, Nihill, Dodecahedron, An Autumn for Crippled Children. Mainly the black metal scene in the Netherlands is really strong.

      • Textures goddammit! Best modern Dutch metal band by far. :)

        • Boter

          Indeed. So when’s their new outing up for review?

      • Kronos

        DOOOODECAHEEEDRON.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    “Just like my own attempts at music, this is best left disregarded and forgotten.”

    I, too, know that feeling.

    • AlphaBetaFoxface

      I feel you bros

  • Bas

    the artwork reminds me of the last The Devils Blood album…

  • lennymccall

    I’ve always felt that Kvelertak was pretty blackened already. Just me?

  • Christ. February was looking like it was going to a great month and then all the shit albums arrived en masse. Oh well. Roll on March I guess.

  • Diego Molero

    I find myself kinda liking the embedded track

    • Shangsean

      I’ve listen to about 70% of the album so far. It’s around 3.5 for me at the moment. Certainly better than most things I’ve heard this year.

      • Diego Molero

        I have only listen to one song but yeah, I also think it’s good. Will check the hole thing for sure