This ain’t your daddy’s Until the Ink Runs Out.
I’m old. Like, in hardcore years. They’re like dog years, except you’re sad when dogs die, not so much when another flake drops out of hardcore.
I’m old enough to remember when Until the Ink Runs Out was blowing my mind. I also owned several track jackets in the early 2000s that matched my friends. We also had matching products from Steve Madden and Diesel. Heck, one of my dudes even went ambisexual and did a turn at Aveda to learn hair.
I absolutely ripped off the vocal stylings of James Hart. There’s even a photo somewhere, that I tried to find, from after a gig in November of 2002. All I know is that Eighteen Visions was one of my favorite bands, even though they had already turned the corner from Until… and released Vanity. I still went with it. To this day, I’m still fine with everything about Vanity.
A few years down the road, the band shifted even further away from their old sound. Eventually, they even released an album that I was smart enough to not listen to.
Yet, absence makes the heart grow fonder. After going well over a decade since I last heard new material from them that held my attention, it was either “I Let Go” or, duh, “Tower of Snakes,” it was exciting to consider the prospect of new music from one of my favorite bands of the early 2000s.
I can really spin a yarn if I need to, but here’s the cliff note: Eighteen Visions just made a record that’s confusing.
Not in a good or bad way so much, just confusing. There’s plenty of bad elements that were used to create this. Half of it sounds vaguely like the garbage that they play on the rock radio station that blares 24/7 at the gym I patronize.
Except, they do it better. They do it “right.”
“Laid to Waste in The Shit of Man” comes to mind immediately. The problem is that Eighteen Visions does it so well. There are legitimate flashes of Stone Temple Pilots hooks in this song. There’s also a totally killer groove. But it doesn’t feel like it should be there. See, confusing.
There’s a lot more good than cornball on this album. I feel I need to be clear about that. If you liked 18V at any point during their Vanity days, you’re going to be happy with this album. The second track, “The Disease, The Decline, and Wasted Time,” is home of the heaviest and most traditional-sounding breakdown I’ve heard from this band. It’s right on par with the “Tower of Snakes” breakdown, but heavier? Pretty sure.
I think the album might be held back a little by just how slick the production turned out. It’s almost too polished. Keep in mind, I grew up on the early stuff and loved it.
There’s enough variety for all fans of breakdowns, fashioncore and mid-catalog Eighteen Visions fans.
I pre-ordered this bad boy, but I haven’t received any of the physical stuff yet. I’m flying without a lyric sheet here, but I noticed a couple of things. First, there are two tried and true themes I hear – friends (or ex-friends) and The Straight Edge. I love both things. Second, it seems like there is a song that could easily be about the departed Mick Deth, or some other person no longer with us.
The lyrics also get really close to base several times. “Picture Perfect” is a great example. They kick off right away by dropping a line about cocaine. Not exactly new territory for the band, but if you compare this song with “Motionless and White,” both lyrically and musically, it comes up short. I don’t think I’m naive, Keith Barney and Hart don’t owe me a re-recording of their early work and they are different people now who can create whatever they want.
Really, I’ve already written more than anyone would want to read in an “album review.”
I like this new album. I’m glad to have some new Eighteen Visions material. Props to them for doing the impossible – taking the most cornball elements of rock music and turning them into something that sounds both good and legitimate while absolutely peppering the tracks with snippets of riffs you’d have heard on Vanity or even Until The Ink Runs Out.
The track “Fake Leather Jacket” might be one of my favorites on this album precisely because it marries all of the worlds of Eighteen Visions into a single song. It feels heavy, it feels like Vanity, it feels like Stone Temple Pilots or some such band, and it also has the catchiest hook on the entire album. Plus, the song title is the closest thing on this album to Until The Ink Runs Out material.
Yeah, I like this album way more than I should. I guess 18 years of Eighteen Visions has proven to be a habit I can’t kick.
by Daniel Coughlin