Formed in 1992 and exploding to mainstream attention in 1996, Long Island 90’s hardcore pioneers Vision Of Disorder were something special during their initial six years in the spotlight. With two cult classic albums released on Roadrunner including the mighty ‘Imprint’ which featured Phil Anselmo providing guest vocals and citing his support for the band, the five piece brought elements to the more traditional hardcore scene you’d find hard to believe – complex drum patterns, more varied vocals which ranged from aggressive shrieks to depressed and captivating low cleans and real metal sounding guitars. After splitting in 2002 and reforming again in 2008, the band are set to release album #5, “Razed To The Ground”. Often considered to have a scorched earth policy with their uncompromising musical approach, let’s see if Tim Williams and company can set the metal world on fire once again.
With its powerful, angry sounding and thunderous intro, “Heart Of Darkness” grabs you by the throat and squeezes with ill intent behind it. Harshly screamed vocals with a venomous edge to them along with some solid rhythmic displays kick start this album from the innovative hardcore outfit and from there, it just seems to get angrier and heavier. With a call back to their early days, forgoing the more accessible alternative metal sound on “From Bliss To Devastation”, the last album they released before their split, VoD go back to what made them stand out in the first place – unrelenting anger and power.
“Hours In Chaos” has some fantastic hard hitting grooves which would surely ignite the crowd, whipping them up into a frenzy when performed live whilst “Electric Sky” shows the band are comfortable at switching between frantic fast paced sections and dark sludgy sections with some haunting vocal work which shifts from harsh to clean with little fuss at all. “Razed To The Ground” pretty much embodies what the whole album is about with its high intensity complex drum-driven groove and scathing aural assault, bringing in some slightly more traditional hardcore stylings without losing their unique edge whilst “Cravings” and “Cut My Teeth” bring the massive breakdown sections with a slightly thrashy edge to them and plenty of subtle melodic hooks and punishing vocals.
The downside is that whilst this album starts so explosively, sods law dictates at some point there will be a plateau or a brick wall which will slow it down, and the three tracks, “Red On The Walls”, “Night Crawler” and “Severed Wing” happen to be the brakes on the runaway hardcore train. “Red on The Walls” sounds more like something Bloodsimple, the band vocalist Tim Williams fronted after VoD’s demise would have put out, with bigger, more melodic choruses and a slightly more restrained edge to it whilst “Nightcrawler” just has a generic hardcore feel to it but it lacks that ferocity in both musical and vocal delivery which is one of the main selling points of VoD. “Severed Wing” does try to reel it back in, but it’s a slow burner. Sure it starts fast and has some harshness to it, but it lacks that kick which really gets it going until towards the end of the track when it’s too late.
Thankfully, the politically charged and scathing assessment of modern life in “A-Murdica, A Culture Of Violence” brings everything back on track. With a venomous delivery, it is a powerful observation of everything what is wrong with America and how desensitised it is to the spate of violent attacks which have happened across the past twelve months or so. It’s a real concentrated shot of anger in musical form guaranteed to provoke thought and rather ironically, provide some real violent looking pit action with its massive riffs and tremendous groove.
In all, “Razed To The Ground” is a wakeup call for any band who classifies themselves as special in the hardcore genre. I will admit, hardcore is not one of my preferred genres, but Vision Of Disorder excel so much. Like Hatebreed, Biohazard and the mighty Stampin’ Ground, they have managed to bridge the gap between Hardcore and Metal, but unlike Hatebreed, they’re not dull, predictable and boring. Angry, Intense, Powerful and back… Vision Of Disorder are burning everything in their path with this release and expect heads to turn once again, much like they did back in ’96.