Review Summary: Hope Con? Glassjaw? RATM? Mom? Is anybody listening?
The spastic bursts of chaotic fury that a contributor posted in the description of the band have come around again. Whether or not Villains actually received any indication of interest from anybody in the nu-core scene or anyone else actually for that matter is always going to be a mystery. Its tough to say whether or not touring with the likes of Abacabb, American me, and Recon (and having actually attended the lambgoat wars in person) actually contributed anything to their resume, since its not entirely truth to say that anybody was even looking. Yet, the album was a quick and sudden come-and-go affair that left an admirable impression. Seventeen months later, the drummer now plays the guitar but the same old formula remains; if Rage Against the Machine and The Hope Conspiracy got down in the mud and Glassjaw and Everytime I Die came by to throw down cash on the winner of a chicken fight...I'd say thats the mix we're fixing here. At least if you can manage to get it loud enough.
The grooves are here people. An aggressive low end polyrhythm can be found in "Mitra," one which makes you reconsider that one Obzen review a few months back that gave it a 2.5 (for justified reasons, but seriously?). The lyrics are whitty, but its more about the attitude with these guys. Sure the opening chant goes great with the programmed beats of "Lucid Dreaming," but how about that brutal riff that carries the song to its finish ala-Hope Con's "Deadtown Nothing,"? The jig of "The Things You Own End Up Owning You," could make you bop around for minute, and have you think Wes Borland? Nookie? But for whatever reason, this is working out a little better than amateur mannerisms or a need for the spotlight. Stray From The Path has done a lot of touring in the last two years, and regardless if the turn outs where anything to speak of, it seems as if they had their own motives. This is a band that likes to play music and doesn't need to be recognized. Are t-shirt sales enough to properly fund five grown men traveling across the country in support of an album nobody has listened to? How many people will seriously even download this album? Probably not many. At the show, I'll be at the bar, and I might recognize a song. Let's just hope they don't cover "Bulls On Parade" again, yet why would I take the greatest response the band has received all night away from them?
But this is as legitimate as it gets and the fact that a new producer stepped into gear here to record the band performing its wild attack is something that should be noted. Kurt Ballou caught them in the act in God City Studio's, so that was somewhat understandable and relative to the whole thing. But after all this time, they manage to get produced by a slightly somewhat professional... Or whoever Misha "Bulb" Mansoor is, he does a damn good job. Most albums of this nature have that "basement" feel which was always a perk, as it was a natural plug into the atmosphere of the band at the time of the recording. But sometimes, mint quality can be a plus and dare I say it, even enjoyable. I mean, we all remember The Chariot's debut, and sometimes "rough demo" should be just that (and not the actual LP). It's tough to record this kind of sloppy noodle core and capture it with a punch, but for some reason, the album carries its own weight.
A good album, a good band. The Villains poster can stay on the wall.