Ten Years Later…
Everyone gather ’round to welcome back Eighteen Visions, a band whose absence from the American metalsphere you probably didn’t even notice!
Okay, that was mean. But seriously, 2017’s XVIII really does mark ten whole years since we last heard from the California ‘core crew, if one can believe it. However, based on how closely the spin-kickin’ breakdowns and wailing pinch harmonics of opener “Crucified” pick up from where Eighteen Visions left off a decade ago, the band seem to have undergone some type of cryogenic freezing process in late 2007, like Captain America did back in the ’40s. And, much like unshakably patriotic Steve Rogers, 18V have emerged from their hypersleep with their antiquated metalcore values completely and pristinely intact.
James Hart’s vocals alone keep the sneering, anthemic, laceless, Vans-clad spirit of early 2000s post-hardcore alive and well over the sludgy 6/8 beat of “The Disease, The Decline and Wasted Time.” The band deserve a Grammy just for the hilarious song title “Laid to Waste in the Shit of Man,” a swaggering slab of blues that stands out amidst the sea of tough guy guitar chugs. Oddly enough, the defiant faux-dad rock stomp is the most threatening, aggressive display that Eighteen Visions manage on their comeback record. Oh, and “Underneath My Gun” starts with that famous sample from They Live.
Unfortunately, the occasional amusing peculiarity every so often is where the good times end and the cracks start to show. The angsty whine and echoey, two-note guitar melody of “Live Again” sound way too close to actual nu metal for comfort, and sort of accentuate how little creative, interesting progress Eighteen Visions have made, not just in this recent year ten-year gap, but in the rest of their career as well. The track is almost indistinguishable from the saccharine radio fodder of groups Three Days Grace and Papa Roach, but this should come as no surprise when one considers that the act were brothers in arms with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Killswitch Engage.
With every step Eighteen Visions ever took into new musical territory, they lost a little more of the hardcore influence that made them so confounding and intriguing to audiences in the context of the late ’90s. Nowadays, Hart’s angry white-boy crooning and sleazy, slithery delivery makes his band sound like a screechy, hyperactive reincarnation of Stone Temple Pilots — the very sort of group from which they stood out so triumphantly in the early days.
Now that Eighteen Visions are back, they’ll need to make some serious stylistic changes if they ever hope to stand alongside the catalog of other post-hardcore and metalcore bands who made progress in 18V’s absence, usually by leaning more into other sub-genres like surf rock or post-punk or crossover. Bands like Trash Talk, Cult Leader and Ceremony — even though Ceremony’s in a bit of a weird spot — just deliver stronger, more consistent, start-to-finish experiences with each album. Don’t count Eighteen Visions out of the metal game, but don’t get your hopes up for the future either.