Vision of Disorder
The Cursed Remain Cursed
Metalcore, for some reason, has always been associated with bands like Converge, Starkweather, Rorschach, Deadguy and even Judge. In my way of thinking, those bands aren’t metalcore but just the next evolutionary step from hardcore. The way Cro-Mags and Agnostic Front were the next evolutionary step from Minor Threat and Bad Brains who were the next evolutionary step from Ramones and The Clash. Metalcore, to me, has always been bands that were in actuality heavy metal but attempted to assign themselves the moniker of hardcore.
One of the pioneering bands of Metalcore is VOD aka Vision Of Disorder. In 1996 their self-titled album rumbled through the underground music scene quite effectively. The band’s 1998 follow up, Imprint, was ahead of its time by about ten years. The new hardcore kids had no clue what they wanted and the metalcore rumblings of VOD seemed too outside their comfort zone. VOD released two more albums, one with a southern fried tint to it, and then they broke up. Years later they would watch as way less talented bands like Atreyu, Bleeding Through, Unearth and so on would cash in on a sound they helped create. Now VOD are back with their first album in ten years titled The Cursed Remain Cursed.
The Cursed Remain Cursed is a metal record and it’s written like one. Dynamics abound here, riffs are allowed to grow and breathe and the songs are rich with solos and huge guitar parts. Wrapped within the metal are bits of hardcore morsels that allow us to remember what VOD were originally trying to do. The guitars punch in a groove that’s born of straight hardcore before settling back into the more metal stuff. VOD also execute switches like a hardcore band. Out of nowhere the songs will stop and flip into something completely different. Vocally we get screams but ones tinged with the same raw anger that feeds Converge and Deadguy as well. When clean vocals do come they are usually enforcing the chorus rather than just randomly applied to a part. It also helps that vocalist Tim Williams can sing.
“Loveless” opens the album with bass line born of any old hardcore album. Slithering around the bass is a steady and bouncing guitar line. This is the tune that will get the crowd jumping up and down eventually leading to the pit opening up. Instead of the easy “here’s the mosh part” of modern metalcore, VOD write an entire song to go nuts to. “Loveless” was an inspired opening track as it’s one of the best on the entire album. “Blood Red Sun” is a straight thrash-meets-death-metal jam. Super heavy driving riff powered by steady double bass and then opening up into classic heavy metal half time. It’s these types of tunes that show how metalcore could have gone if a band like VOD had been around to guide it. This is all heavy metal inspired by hardcore and it never sinks into anything as derivative as Bullet For My Valentine.
As good as all this is compared to vomitously awful bands like The Devil Wears Prada or Avenged Sevenfold, you still have to enjoy basic hardcore ideals crushed through a heavy metal filter. VOD are masters of cool parts but they don’t always write great songs. At times one part of a tune will outshine the rest of it, such as the chorus for “The Enemy”, which is so good that the rest of the tune feels flat. The opening groove to “Hard Times” is awesome but a minute in we’re subjected to fairly standard chunk-chunk metalcore riffs. Every time the opening groove returns it shines a bright light on how boring the rest of the tune is. Nothing on The Cursed Remain Cursed is bad, but it isn’t groundbreaking either. This is a decent metal record that’s an outstanding metalcore record and that dichotomy is interesting but doesn’t motivate me to want to hear the record very often.
Even if I didn’t love this album, I hope the return of VOD takes metalcore in a better direction. The genre isn’t going anywhere so the only hope is that it gets better. A band like VOD, if the kids embrace them, might break the hold of hipster metal that currently grips metalcore. I’ll never be a fan of this genre, but if more bands produced albums like The Cursed Remain The Cursed, at least I could respect it.