Back in June at this year’s Download Festival, Eighteen Visions played to a crowd who, whilst generally lapping up the set, barely moshed, created no circle pits and respected each other’s personal space. Such non-actions would have been unthinkable at Eighteen Visions gigs of old and succinctly summed up what last album Obsession had tried to tell everyone – Eighteen Visions are no longer a hardcore band.
Well, if the metalcore-meets-Stone Temple Pilots sound of Obsession was a bitter pill to swallow for some, then the unimaginatively titled Eighteen Visions will make them choke. Perhaps with 20/20 – rather than 18 – vision, this could have been predicted. However, the lengths to which James Hart & co have gone to erase all pre-Obsession vestiges and instead create a new sound where the descriptions “stadium-like” and “anthemic” repeatedly spring to mind, is surprising – even to those of us who dug the genre-straddling last album.
That’s not to say that the latest album is bad. In fact, if you are able to treat this like the début by a new heavy rock band, there’s much to get excited over, particularly as one thing Eighteen Visions have retained is their penchant for monstrously-proportioned, sledgehammer riffs. The difference now is that these riffs are accompanied by clean vocals in the verses and chest-beating, multi-layered choruses.
More often than not this combination comes up trumps with the football terrace chants of “We must escape!” in Our Darkest Days and the “Give me one! Give me two!” in Victim coolly counterpointing the otherwise muscly, metallic grooves.
A few of the songs, such as the beat-filled Pretty Suicide and the battering Your Nightmare, throw some industrial elements in to mix things up, while the likes of Burned Us Alive and Black And Bruised are high-octane metal ‘n’ roll. And whilst “high-octane” might be a cliché it is most certainly apt because these are tunes made for in-vehicle head-shaking.
Of course, Eighteen Visions are playing a dangerous game and when they get things wrong it’s all a bit of a car crash. Broken Hearted sounds like Def Leppard circa 1987 – I kid thee not – and even if I’ll admit to finding myself singing along at one point, such anaemic, radio-friendly cock rock is best left as a practical example in the book entitled “Why CDs Replaced Vinyl: The Skip Button” (which was probably written in 1987 too).
Unfortunately Broken Hearted isn’t a sole offender, with Last Night and closer Tonightless also doing their best to grate. Like cheese, in fact. ‘Nuff said.
Still, you can’t fault Eighteen Visions for their courage in treading a musical path that will undoubtedly make them objects of scorn amongst the hardcore community. Whether enough new fans will join them on their current journey to make the sacrifice worthwhile remains to be seen, but those who do will find a band who still have plenty to offer the open-minded, heavy music lover.