Review Summary: Chaotic neutral.
Seeing ’68 when they came to Australia left me in a state of awe. Here was this two-piece who, despite their relatively tame following compared to headliners Architects and Bring Me The Horizon, completely took over the crowd, and played one of the most incredible sets I’ve ever seen. There was no single song, but rather one big performance, with guitar tracks, chaotic drumming and downright insane vocals. As the band began to wrap up, the vocalist recorded a single guitar line and played it on repeat as he took apart the drummer’s kit as he still played. This last moment stuck with me as it was the tamest part of their set; watching Josh just calmly pick apart Michael’s drum kit and hand it off to the crowd was something I had never seen before. And even if it wasn’t the most powerful performance of the night (Architects playing ‘Gone with the Wind’ just a month after Tom’s passing absolutely takes that accolade), it was a very close second. This live persona ’68 had built for themselves was brilliantly backed up by their debut In Humour and Sadness
, a noise-rock outing that was visceral as it was catchy. But with the release of Two Parts Viper
, ’68 take a far more focused approach, resulting in an outing that provides enough variety to stand tall next to their debut.
Although Two Parts Viper
focuses more on melody than it does chaos, it certainly proves Josh Scogin’s capabilities as a song writer. Opener ‘Eventually We All Win’ starts quiet, before exploding into a burst of noise, led by Scogin’s signature harsh vocals. His ability to carry songs with his vocal-guitar combination is something to be admired, as they bounce off each other seamlessly. Follow-up track ‘Whether Terrified Or Unafraid’ touches on the more chaotic side of ’68, as the glitchy vocal effects mix in-between southern-eqsue guitar lines and a mix of frantic and measured drums from Michael McClellan. The duo’s chemistry is unrivalled, and is proven even stronger on ‘This Life Is Old, New, Borrowed And Blue’. As the guitars drive the song forward, the drums weave themselves into both vocals and strings, hitting just as hard. Later, ‘Life Has Its Design’ contains a droning bass line that tunnels its way under the song as it slowly devolves into a beautiful mess of effects and Josh’s vocals, and ‘Death Is A Lottery’ shows furthermore the capabilities of Josh as a driving force for the band, mixing his slightly strained vocals perfectly with the guitar and bass lines.
The more dynamic songs, however, prove to be what truly shows ‘68’s capabilities as a dynamic duo. ‘No Apologies’ grooves as Josh croons over the top, but midway through the song all noise cuts as the vocals take hold, cutting only to bring in a low bass line, and cutting back to only vocals. Josh’s lyrics have always been a staple of his previous bands, and here they are nothing short of fantastic. ‘No Apologies’ contains some fantastic lines; “So I’d like to panic but I ain’t got the time/If you give them eight eyes, they will ask for nine”, as does the previously mentioned ‘Whether Terrified Or Unafraid’; “Hope is a four letter word that I wrote on my fingers/For nothing else even came close”. Closer ‘What More Can I Say’, the most subdued the band has ever been, may well be one of the best songs they’ve ever written. As Scogin’s vocals become more and more strained as the song progresses, the measured guitar line cuts before the band comes full force, adding horns and keys as the album comes to a beautiful close.
What Two Parts Viper
lacks in noise it makes up for in character. The variance of everything on the album sets it far enough apart from ‘68’s debut to be its own entity whilst succeeding as a continuation of what was built on In Humour and Sadness
. The addition of melody and a concentrated structure plays perfectly into the hands of both Josh as a vocalist-guitarist, and Michael as a drummer. Their chemistry is immaculate, and continues to be the reason ’68 are so fantastic, and provides a wonderful addition to the ever-growing world that Josh Scogin has created.