Vision of Disorder
Razed To The Ground
13th November 2015 – Candlelight Records
01. Heart Of Darkness
02. Hours In Chaos
03. Electric Sky
04. Razed To The Ground
06. Cut My Teeth
07. Red On The Walls
09. Severed Wing
10. Amurdica: A Culture of Violence
Back in the mid-nineties, while the alternative world at large was becoming increasingly besotted with nu-metal, a family of New York bands was instead busying themselves by smashing together metal and hardcore in varying combinations, with exciting results. Playing a part in laying the foundations for the noughties metalcore explosion, along with bands like Madball, Biohazard and Life of Agony came – to these ears – the particularly compelling proposition put forward by Vision of Disorder.
1998′s Imprint was arguably a high water mark, with the title track being one of the most nakedly ferocious songs of its time. However, label difficulties ultimately led to the band’s premature demise in 2002. After a few years on hiatus – which saw some members go on to form Bloodsimple – Vision of Disorder returned sporadically to the stage, finally returning fully with The Cursed Remain Cursed in 2012. Clearly not in the mood to be hurried, the band have only now followed it up with sixth album Razed To The Ground.
Despite having existed as a band for longer than many metalcore band members today have been alive, Vision of Disorder clearly have no intention of breaking out the acoustic guitars and chunky sweaters any time soon, retaining the bite with which they first built their reputation. Although Razed To The Ground contains more of the slightly (VERY slightly) more restrained, mid-paced and faintly grungy overtures of 2001′s From Bliss To Devastation, the record is still seething with their trademark splenetic invective.
Vision of Disorder stay a lot closer to standard tuning than many bands of their ilk, resulting in a slightly different type of heaviness from the usual metalcore fare. So rather than feeling like he’s been broadsided by a charging rhino, the listener is more likely to feel like they’ve been ripped apart by a particularly well-coordinated pack of wolves. Propelled by a seemingly limitless supply of frantic, jittery riffs, Razed To The Ground lunges straight for the jugular with opening track “Heart of Darkness” and gives only fleeting moments of respite throughout its runtime. The title track alone contains at least as many genuinely great riffs as the majority of bands can manage across an entire album.
The greater variety in tempo also helps to maintain attention levels through the entire release. “Nightcrawler” is a real stand-out track, packed with yet more anthemic riffs loaded in equal measure with hooks and menace. It’s all the more potent through the band’s restraint, giving the track a genuine feeling that it is straining at the leash. At no point does Razed to the Ground feel forced or cliched, so the three year gap between releases has clearly been put to good use. The obviously strict quality control means there’s not a track in the running order that could be classed as ‘filler’, and the disc is as lean as it is mean.
The icing on the cake comprised of those great riffs and tight, snappy songwriting comes in the form of Tim Williams’ powerful and distinctive voice. Alternating between a venom-spitting, caustic bark and off-kilter, minor key, slightly haunted cleans, his vocals are a crucial part of the band’s identity, and the rage that seems to propel him shows no sign of abating any time soon.
With a history spanning three decades, Vision of Disorder have returned once again to show the legions of young upstarts how it’s really done. Their songwriting has matured, but they definitely have not mellowed with age. Instead, in Razed to the Ground they have delivered a masterclass in no-nonsense, deftly controlled packets of nervous, furious energy, trimmed of fat and patiently waiting to rip your face off, given half a chance. You’re unlikely to hear a purer expression of rage this year. Outstanding stuff.