Review Summary: Point of transition between old-school and the New Wave that would characterize the following decade1 of 2 thought this review was well written
Hell, the Nineties (maybe apart from the last quarter or so) were one pissed time. The Los Angeles riots, the Waco siege, the Gulf war, the rise of Generation X…it seemed like all hell was breaking loose over the planet. This rage was heavily reflected on arts, in this case music. And in fact the Nineties present us with a plethora of extremely aggressive bands with a strong socio-political stance. While the all-too-infamous Rage Against the Machine would be the most obvious example from ten miles away, there are many other possible examples, among which Vision of Disorder.
Hailing from Long Island, VOD were formed in 1992 and became known after the songs “Suffer” and “Deconstruction” appeared in the 1995 compilation album <i>New York’s Hardest</i>, leading to the band being signed by Supersoul Records, which at the time was Roadrunner’s underground hardcore label. This self-titled debut of theirs was released in 1996, when groove thrash, death metal and metallic hardcore were all the rage in the US extreme metal underground, the last two being the dominant genres in the East Coast scene. Stylistically, VOD’s debut is a raw and aggressive fusion of old and new (for the time), where the classic metallic crossover style of bands such as Cro-Mags meets the new influences (such as highly technical drumming and melodies of bands such as Machine Head, Fear Factory and Crisis) that were hugely popular in 1996. While <i>Imprint</i> can be said to be the shape of things to come, VOD’s self-titled may as well be the apogee of a golden era.
Now let's talk about the music. The strongest point of this album may as well be the drumming. Brendan Cohen does here some of the best drumming I’ve ever heard from a hardcore band. In some way, he was undoubtedly influenced by the groove thrash of the era, as he alternates between slow, technical passages, and then faster drumming more reminiscent of traditional New York hardcore or thrash metal. His best exponent in terms of drumming is arguably the song “Suffer”.
Tim Williams also delivers a quite impressive vocal performance, even if he’s less extreme here than in their sophomore album. His combination of aggressive hardcore/thrash yelling and melodic vocals was already common at the time, but it should be still said that he truly knows how to sound angry (e.g. “Element”) and melodic (e.g. “Viola”), and his combination of both is amazing (e.g. “Zone Zero”). As for his lyrics…what about “They gave us their definition/To religion to destruction to whom to believe […] Their generation will rot in their golden grooves/Our generation slapped with a ***in' ‘X’/Suffer” or “I'll never give up my pride/And I'll never surrender my hate/You on the opposite side/You're the ones who made me this way”. These lyrics focus mostly on street life and socio-political issues and carry a very strong mood with them, sometimes along with violent threats (“I'll pull the ***in' trigger/Watch your head combust”).
The guitarists are reasonable for the genre’s patterns. From the beginning to the end, the album is charged with memorable riffing from the hands of Mike Kennedy and Matt Baumbach, which leads the album perfectly in a combination of aggression and catchiness. The guitars are complimented with Fleischmann’s thick bass. The production, surprisingly, is very hi-fi for its era and scene, improving much the listening experience.
Lowdowns? Williams’s shouting is sometimes unoriginal. Plus, there's sometimes a place where you'd like a sick solo or something, yet somehow it was decided that solos were to be avoided. Sad stuff, really.
As a conclusion, it should be pointed out that, while its mark can't be felt as well as with their following album, one can't really avoid to tell that it is a 90s essential. A sweet memory from a golden era.