The thing that gets called ‘metalcore’ these days – y’know, that thing where a band play big chugging riffs over some screamed vocals before going into the melodic bit and then a beatdown? Well, you see, that isn’t really metalcore. That’s just a hybrid of modern metal styles thrown into a pot and then named metalcore by lazy-arsed observers who can’t be bothered to look into the style’s history and think that anything that sounds like Killswitch Engage is metalcore.
Think again – this new album by New York’s Vision of Disorder IS metalcore. Proper metalcore. A potent mixture of slamming hardcore riffs and brutal metal heaviness that threatens to overload your senses until you bleed from every orifice, and even then it won’t stop until it slam-dances on your corpse. Quite frankly, if the bass-heavy rush of opening track ‘Loveless’ doesn’t get you doing backflips off the wall like you’ve just had a syringe full of Red Bull injected straight into your brain then it could be that you’re officially dead. No matter though, as the bullish anger of ‘Set to Fail’ is enough to resurrect the dead with some of the heaviest grooves and sharpest riffs that Sick of It All never recorded.
Just those first two songs should be enough to floor even the most hardened metallers, but the band don’t let up for the duration of the album’s eleven songs, barely taking their foot off the pedal. When they do the effect is still devastating, with the relatively restrained first half of ‘Skullz Out (Rot In Pieces)’ leaning towards the heavier end of biker metal before changing gear and bringing in the punk rock, then ending on the same greasy riff it started on. The rolling thunder of ‘Hard Times’ is as tight and aggressive as prime Megadeth without the lead guitar noodlings and as full of time-changes and fist-pumping riffs as the best thrash metal, whilst ‘Be Up On It’ is a full-on hardcore anthem wrapped up in Life of Agony-style melodies that sway from melancholy chanting to full-on gang vocals with consummate ease.
When Vision of Disorder’s self-titled debut album emerged in 1996 it was a rather stiff-sounding album that had that spark of something special, that certain sound that wasn’t quite there but was pointing in the right direction. Follow-up album Imprint was a huge improvement – Phil Anselmo wouldn’t lend his considerable vocals to any old tat now, would he? – but the musical landscape wasn’t ready for Vision of Disorder’s ahead-of-its-time concoction. The Cursed Remain Cursed is the perfect album for now; a crushing blend of muscle and sweat that should put an end to the word ‘metalcore’ being overused in the wrong context. This is hardcore metal or metallic hardcore – however you want to put it – and don’t let any other pretenders tell you otherwise.