Vision of Disorder // The Cursed Remain Cursed
Rating: 4.0/5.0 – Overcoming the tyranny of genre expectations
Websites: myspace.com | facebook.com
Release Dates: Out worldwide 09.18.2012
A long time ago, something happened that interrupted the evolution of hardcore. It was the end of the 90s and a new, inherently American sound was breathing life back into the genre. Bands like Vision of Disorder, Acid Bath, Will Haven and Life of Agony, each represented a different strain, which would later go on to generate other sub-genres and sounds. The only thing these acts had in common was that, albeit for different reasons, they all split when they were had reached, or were about to reach, commercial success. But their legacy lasted far beyond their lifespan.
People thought hardcore should not evolve and, since all revolutions – like the one initiated by punk fifteen years before – end up in tyranny, a handful of labels, promoters, magazines and proto-bloggers decreed that the rejects had to die an honorable death and dissolve. But if history teaches us one thing, it is that there is no purity through exclusion; trying to ignore evolution usually results in one unavoidable result: failure. And, well, nü metal. [I would argue that they were all nü metal from the get-go. – AMG] And while the volume of revenues generated by the new type of rap-rock was in inverse proportion to the quality of the material on offer, the die had already been cast and the likes of Converge, Eyehategod, Isis and Neurosis were all continuing to explore the new possibilities of a genre now happily contaminated with doom, math and southern rock.
Vision Of Disorder imploded in 2002 following an album – From Bliss To Devastation (2001) – which alienated those who expected the band from Long Island to perpetually regurgitate the sound of rawer releases like Imprint (1998) or Vision of Disorder (1996). Sense of humor, self-criticism and far-sightedness are not the qualities these fans are renowned for, and the closed-minded happened to be the majority. So that was the end of Vision of Disorder as we knew them. Therefore, you would be forgiven for thinking that the new album, The Cursed Remain Cursed, should be a solid continuation of their debut, minus the bluesy feel of their last record, plus a more mature approach. But you will be glad to be wrong.
The sound is a modern synthesis of everything that could never be: Tim Williams’ grungy, throaty vocals remind us that Killswitch Engage owe the guy a share of their profits, while the angular, neurotic angst behind Mike Kennedy and Matt Baumbach’s guitar work proves that it is still possible to write intricate songs through the clever use of essential measures. “Set to Fail” is the perfect track to summarise the band’s approach to contemporary metal: it grows following a crude aesthetic taste touching on hardcore in a leaden, slower manner to end up with a melodic pattern soaked in sludge. Brendon Cohen’s fast-paced drums lead a track like “Blood Red Sun” into an oblivion of husky vocals annihilating the silence of the last 11 years, ideally healing the wound that had been left open by show business.
The Cursed Remain Cursed feels like a terribly angry record: one that theses individuals could only have realized as a collective. Bloodsimple and Karnow are great outlets, but the power and the blues (in the less musical meaning of this term) unleashed by “The Enemy,” “The Order of Ages” and “The Seventh Circle” appear to overcome the difficulties inherent in picking up the pieces of a great band without indulging in too many “what ifs.”
As Bassist Mike Fleishmann has clearly pointed out, what makes this band special is the very same variety of influences that, if we were cynical, we might say sealed the fate of a band that had apparently lost its sense of direction with the previous, extremely controversial album. The conflicting balance between aggression and melody is what keeps these songs alive in a continuous struggle between grunge and hardcore that, in turn, generates a musical hybrid that ends up living a life of its own. And while The Cursed Remain Cursed may sometimes lack an inclination for a more challenging sound, the way the dynamics of “The Enemy” or “Annihilator” are handled betrays a sense of expectation for what will be next.
2012 sees Vision Of Disorder back with a sound which, although obviously more mature and complex, is undeniably theirs. That sound being more hardcore than ever, is in itself a revenge on show business: it is a dish served extremely cold to an angry crowd that chose another path and which will now welcome the band as if nothing happened. This is a band with scars. One whose history is unique and remains cursed.